For many expectant mothers, pregnancy is both an exciting and daunting time. So many emotions are racing through you as you’re preparing for your little one — question is, are you ready if your baby is premature?
With the rate of premature birth on the rise, it’s become more important than ever to have early preparations in place. In Australia, around 8% of babies are born premature. Of these premature babies, approximately 84% are born between 32 and 36 weeks, 10% are born between 28 and 31 weeks, and the remainder are born before the 28 week mark.
Thankfully, there are some simple and actionable ways every new mother can prepare for a premature birth — we’ve gathered a few essentials to help make life a little easier for and your newborn during the leadup and in those precious first days, weeks and months.
Simple Ways To Prepare For A Premature Birth
Communicate with your doctor or midwife
One of the factors that exacerbates fear during birth is the feeling of being out of control — many mothers find it helpful becoming more familiar with processes. When you understand how and why things are happening, it helps you to be mentally prepared and communicate your preferences to the doctors.
Fortnightly or weekly appointments with your chosen medical professional during the third trimester are an essential opportunity for you to build your birth plan.
Know the early signs
In approximately 50% of premature births, the cause is unknown. However, this makes staying educated even more important — certain factors are known to increase the likelihood of a premature birth. Furthermore, there are risks with an early birth.
Speak with your doctor or midwife to better understand the symptoms you should watch out for, along with the common procedures in the case of a premature birth.
When an expectant mother experiences early contractions but isn’t yet in active labour, often “she’ll be given medication to delay contractions as long as possible and to enable her transfer to a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit”. Several procedures are put into place to assist the baby’s lungs and brain, since they are two vulnerable organs for particularly premature babies.
Ensuring you and your partner are aware of next best steps for different scenarios will help you to act fast.
Prepare a hospital bag
A hospital bag is as straightforward as it sounds — when your due date gets closer, it’s useful to have your hospital bag ready to go. It’s best to include:
- All your paperwork, such as hospital forms and insurance information
- Warm and comfortable clothes, such as socks and sweaters
- General toiletries, such as toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, shampoo, glasses and contacts
- Nonperishable foods and snacks
- Portable phone chargers and charging cables
- Maternity bras
- Clothes and a blanket for your baby coming home
Talk to people who’ve been through it
Many babies are born prematurely and overcome complications to grow up living a healthy life. There’s a good chance you’ll know someone who had a premature baby. Reaching out to fellow mothers who’ve also been through it all will offer an encouraging and empathetic voice to guide you through your experience.
You’re not in this alone.
Preparing for the birth of your baby is a joint effort — as you communicate your concerns and questions to a trusted doctor or midwife, it’s crucial to keep those close to you in the loop. They’re there to help you, as you prepare your home, welcome your little one and celebrate new beginnings.
About the author: Rina
Rina’s a Sydney sider who’s got over 20 years in healthcare experience. In her spare time, she loves riding her motorcycle and playing with her two girls.