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India is home to 1/5 of the world’s 15 million premature birth. Most preterm births occur between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, and almost all of these infants go on to have healthy lives as adults. Sadly, some premature babies die because their organs cannot develop normally outside the womb.
Which pregnancies will end prematurely is impossible to forecast. Premature births are most frequently without a known reason. Although we are aware of a few risk factors, it is challenging to avoid premature labor because it is still unclear how it occurs.
Although the majority of premature newborns go on to lead normal, healthy lives, they are more likely to experience health issues and developmental delays than babies who were delivered at the proper time. So here we are, unlocking the symptoms, causes, complications, and preventive measures to give birth to a healthy baby.
What Is Premature Birth
Premature birth is when a baby is born earlier than expected. At about 40 weeks of pregnancy, babies often arrive. Premature or preterm births are those that occur before 37 weeks. Worldwide, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm, disproportionately in low- and middle-income nations.
Babies born before 22 weeks of gestation cannot survive.
Categories Of Prematurity
Preterm births come into one of four categories:
- Late preterm birth, born between 34 and 36 weeks.
- Moderately preterm birth, born between 32 and 34 weeks.
- Very preterm birth, born before 32 weeks.
- Extremely preterm birth, born before 25 weeks.
Symptoms Of Premature Birth
If you experience any of these early labor warning signs and symptoms, you should contact your hospital. Some signs of labor are:
- A low, dull backache
- A sensation of pressure in your pelvis or like your baby is pushing down.
- Swelling of the face, foot, or hands
- Contractions that take place more than four times each hour
- Diarrhea, Nausea, or vomiting
- Double vision, blurriness, or other eye problems
- Stomach cramps that resemble menstrual pain
- Your infant’s motions are slowly fading or stopping.
- Your vagina is leaking blood or fluid.
The sooner you consult a midwife or doctor if you are in early labor, the better. The longer your child can remain in your womb, the better if they are developing normally and receiving everything they need from your body.
Causes Of Premature Birth
The main causes of premature birth are as below:
Prior preterm birth – You are more likely to give birth early again if you’ve already done so.
Miscarriage – Earlier miscarriage can cause premature birth.
Low levels of PAPP-A – In pregnancy, the placenta produces a hormone called plasma protein-A (PAPP-A). The placenta, which aids in the baby’s growth and development, may function less effectively if low PAPP-A levels. Premature birth or pre-eclampsia may have a higher likelihood.
Placenta Praevia – Occasionally, the placenta attaches low in the uterus and may completely or partially cover the cervix (the neck of the womb). Premature birth is more likely if you have placenta praevia.
Polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid) – Polyhydramnios occurs when excessive amniotic fluid surrounds the fetus during pregnancy. This may lead to Preterm birth.
Preterm premature membrane rupturing (PPROM or waters breaking early) – There is a slight possibility that your waters will break early in this pregnancy if they did so in a previous one. Premature birth or late miscarriage are two outcomes of PPROM.
Uterine abnormalities – Unusual womb (uterus) development prior to delivery is referred to as uterine abnormality. Premature birth may be more likely depending on the form of the womb.
Some More Factors Causing Preterm Birth
After 24 weeks, bleeding – Bleeding during the first trimester may indicate a placental issue, such as a low-lying placenta or placental abruption, both of which might result in an early birth.
Multiple pregnancies – Triplets and twins are frequently delivered early. Nearly all triplets and more than half of twins are delivered before 37 weeks.
Diabetes of both types 1 and 2 – One of the most frequent issues involving diabetes during pregnancy is premature birth. Prior check for diabetic symptoms.
Infection in the womb – Intrauterine Infection affects the womb. E-Coli, Group B Streptococcus (GBS), bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia, trichomona, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV are among the infections that can spread to the womb. Premature birth can result from intrauterine infection.
Urinary Tract Infections – Premature birth occurs as a result of a urinary tract infection.
Complication Of Premature Birth
The following are some potential reasons for premature birth:
Lung disease: Premature infants frequently require oxygen through a ventilator or in an incubator until their lungs are properly developed.
Feeding difficulties: Premature newborns frequently cannot suckle and must be fed through a tube into the stomach until the reflexes for sucking and swallowing are formed.
Challenges with temperature control – A premature baby’s brain has an undeveloped “temperature control center.” Special overhead warmers or enclosed incubators are used to care for babies until they are old enough to be cared for in a regular crib.
Apnoea: It is at this point that the infant briefly stops breathing. The respiratory center, a region of the brain that regulates breathing in preterm infants, is undeveloped.
Bradycardia: Bradycardia is the slowing of the heart rate.
Jaundice: The blood substance bilirubin, which breaks down red blood cells, causes the skin to turn yellow. Phototherapy lights are used because a premature baby’s liver is too young to digest the bilirubin effectively.
Effects Of Premature Birth On the Baby
For a fetus to develop, the uterus must hold it for the entire time. If they are born too soon, they might not be fully mature. Significant health issues may result from this. The following are a few of the most typical medical issues that impact premature babies:
- Premature apnea, or brief interruptions in breathing while they sleep.
- Underdeveloped lungs, also known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
- Bleeding within the ventricles of the brain.
- Necrotizing enterocolitis, often known as intestinal inflammation
- Blood infection or neonatal sepsis.
- An abnormal heart blood flow condition is patent ductus arteriosus (PDA).
- Premature retinopathy, or inadequately developed blood vessels in the eye.
Developmental difficulties are also more likely to affect premature babies. Later in adulthood, they could experience health concerns, including
- Delayed growth and poor coordination
- Eyesight and hearing issues
- Physical Disabilities
- Learning Challenge
- Cerebral palsy
Management Of Premature Birth
You’ll likely undergo a pelvic exam or an ultrasound at the hospital. Your cervix will be examined to see if labor has begun, and your baby will be kept under observation. You may be given medication to temporarily stop the contractions while in labor. This will help you to shift to another hospital. Additionally, 12 to 24 hours before delivery, you might get corticosteroid injections. Your baby’s chance of some of the issues associated with an early birth will be decreased by steroids (for example, breathing difficulties).
Premature babies can give birth extremely soon. Vaginal delivery is the most common. However, there are rare circumstances in which the doctor may determine that it is best for you to deliver your child via cesarean section. Your doctor will discuss this with you.
Medical staff from the neonatal (newborn) unit attend the birth. When your child is born, they will take care of them in your room. The medical staff may utilize some specialized tools. For instance, your baby might require a neonatal resuscitation bed.
In addition to keeping your baby warm, the team may give them medicine, an oxygen mask, or breathing tubes to help them breathe. Some infants require either cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or an adrenalin injection to keep their hearts pumping.
Aftermath Of Giving Birth To A Premature Baby
The signs of premature delivery in your infant could be simple, or they could be more complicated.
The following are some indicators of prematurity:
- Small size and an abnormally huge head
- Due to a lack of fat storage, the features are less rounded and more sharply shaped than those of a full-term baby.
- Fine hair or lanugo can be seen in the body.
- Low body temperature, particularly in the moments following birth in the delivery room, is brought on by an absence of body fat reserves.
- Respiration difficulty or labored breathing
- A lack of swallowing and sucking reflexes causes feeding problems.
Will There be Development Delay Of Premature Baby
Premature newborns often have the following issues:
- Breathing difficulties
- Heart issues
- Digestive system issues
Most premature infants will develop normally, but because they are more likely to experience developmental issues, they should undergo routine health and development checks at the hospital or with a pediatrician. Speak with your doctor if you are concerned about your child’s development.
Children who were born prematurely may experience the following issues later in life:
- Language barriers
- Movement and growth issues
- Teeth-related issues
- Visual or auditory issues
- Difficulty with thinking and learning
- Social and emotional difficulties
Prevention Of Premature Birth
By receiving quick and appropriate treatment you can decrease the likelihood of premature birth. Other crucial preventive actions include:
- Eating a balanced pregnancy diet both before and throughout pregnancy. Ensure that you consume enough whole grains, lean proteins, vegetables, and fruits. Further, take calcium and folic acid supplements.
- Regularly consuming a lot of water The recommended daily intake is eight glasses, but if you exercise, you should drink more.
- Beginning in the first trimester, taking aspirin every day. Your doctor might advise taking 60 to 80 mg of aspirin daily if you have high blood pressure or a history of preterm birth.
- Put an end to drug use, smoking, and excessive prescription drug use. An increased risk of miscarriage and several birth abnormalities may result from these behaviors during pregnancy.
Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about giving birth too soon. Your doctor can suggest additional preventive measures.
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A Word From Fitelo
Premature babies can require more work than babies born at term. Premature infants and their parents may experience an unexpected and perhaps difficult beginning to their life together. However, with expert care, assistance, and direction, the early issues frequently resolve, and the majority of kids develop normally.
By eating healthily, sleeping when you can, and exercising, you can take good care of yourself. When you can, spend time with your other kids alone, and seek assistance. Consult your friends, family, and support networks for assistance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What Causes Premature Births Most Frequently?
Ans: The majority of preterm births are due to natural causes, but others are brought on by illnesses or other pregnancy issues that necessitate cesarean sections or early labor induction.
Q: Is A Premature Birth Painful?
Ans: Lower abdominal cramps that resemble menstrual cramps may be constant or intermittent. Below the waist, a dull low backache may be intermittent. You will get a sensation that your baby is pressing down on your pelvis. This pressure fluctuates.
Q: What Are The Four Risk Factors For Giving Birth Prematurely?
Ans: Preterm birth is a risk factor for those who have previously delivered prematurely, in pregnancy with multiples, using cigarettes or other drugs, or have short-time pregnancies (18 months or fewer between them).
Q: How Many Weeks Is Premature?
Ans: A baby born prematurely is one who was conceived before 37 full weeks of pregnancy (more than 3 weeks before the due date).
Q: Do Premature Babies Grow Up Normally?
Ans: Most premature infants will develop normally, but because they are more likely to experience developmental issues, they should undergo routine health and development checks at the hospital or with a pediatrician. Speak with your doctor if you are concerned about your child’s development.
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