Premature birth worries many pregnant women who are afraid that they too will go through this. Premature birth is problematic for both mother and baby, but there are babies born even at 24 weeks that survive due to today's advanced technology. These babies will need to be kept in intensive care units for a long time and may have long-term health problems.
All experts agree that preterm birth is risky and the closer to the end of pregnancy your baby will be born, the more chances it will have to be healthy. Children born between 34 and 37 weeks have no major problems, but are more exposed than those born at term.
Women who give birth prematurely can do so for different reasons. Some women give birth prematurely due to medical causes, for example the doctor decides to induce labor or to do a caesarean section for serious medical causes, such as severe preeclampsia or because the baby has stopped evolving.
However, preterm birth can happen spontaneously, if your water breaks or your cervix is dilated without contraction. A premature birth is considered to be the one before 37 weeks.
There are certain risk factors that can cause premature birth, but it is important to know that you may have a normal birth even if you have the following preconditions:
- Vaginal and urinary tract infections;
- If you are pregnant with twins, triplets etc;
- Drug use: cannabis, ecstasy or cocaine;
- If you are a victim of domestic violence;
- Abnormalities of the uterus;
- Past surgery on the shrimp;
- Abortions done in the past;
- Pregnancy losses in the past, especially between 16 and 24 weeks;
- Birth / premature birth in the past;
- The change of the partner in the period between the birth of the first two children;
- Biological markers of amniotic fluid.
It is well known that most of the causes of preterm birth are unknown. It is also very important to know the signs of a premature birth and what to do if it happens.
Signs of a premature birth
- More abundant vaginal discharge.
- Changes in the type of vaginal discharge, if they become more watery, viscous or bleeding (even very little bleeding).
- Vaginal bleeding.
- Abdominal pain, menstrual cramps, or more than four contractions in an hour (even if they are painful).
- Increased pressure in the pelvis area (feeling like your baby is pushing down).
- Pain in the lower back, especially if you have not had back pain before.
These symptoms can often be confusing, for example, pelvic pressure and lower back pain can also occur in a normal pregnancy, and contractions can be harmless (like Braxton Hicks). However, it is advisable to call your doctor immediately if you have any of the above signs before week 37.
Even if you happen to have one of the symptoms listed in the middle of the night, do not wait until the morning to go to the hospital. The doctor will ask you to go to the hospital immediately. Don't drive a car, pray for someone else or call an ambulance.
What will happen to the hospital in the event of a premature birth?
When you get to the hospital you will undergo a vaginal exam to see if your cervix is shortening and opening. You will also have some tests to detect possible infections:
- A urine test;
- A test of vaginal discharge;
- A blood test;
You will be given the opportunity to have a vaginal ultrasound test to see how long the cervix is. A short cervix indicates that the birth has begun.
If the doctors are not sure whether or not you are at work, they might send you to a waiting room to keep you under observation.
They will not be able to stop the birth if it is already advanced. If you are under 34 weeks of age, however, you may be given an injection to delay your birth a little, until you can be transferred to a hospital that has an intensive care unit for newborns. Doctors may still give you a steroid injection that helps your baby's lungs grow faster.
What to expect at birth
Premature birth is a pretty exciting time for any mother who goes through this. You may feel overwhelmed by the situation or scared for the life of your baby. Ask your doctor to explain what is happening at each step.
The baby's heartbeat will be monitored throughout labor. If you want something for pain, you will probably be advised of epidural anesthesia.
Even if it is a premature birth, you may not need to have a cesarean section. Caesarean surgery will be done if your doctor considers it necessary because of a severe bleeding or if the baby seems to have problems.
Your baby born prematurely
If your baby is born before 34 weeks, he will be taken immediately to the intensive care unit. You might only see him for a moment before he is taken there. This might initially scare you. Your doctor will explain what is happening.
You can see your baby as often as you want then. You will probably feel you have no way to help him, but this is not true. You can change his diaper, eat it and in some cases you can even hold it and breastfeed. He needs the attention of parents just as much as he needs medical care.
A baby born between 34-37 weeks of age may not need any medical treatment and may go straight to the salon with you.
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