Celebrating World Prematurity Day – Twins, Charlotte & Phoebe
Posted on 5 Nov, 2016 by Sarah Hart
Some information about World Prematurity Day
World Prematurity Day raises awareness of the special issues facing infants born prematurely. It also celebrates the development and growth of older babies and children who were born prematurely. Its a great day to support members of your community who work with newborns or premature infants, or are parents adjusting with a prematurely born infant.
What is Prematurity?
A full-term pregnancy lasts between 37 and 42 weeks, and “prematurity” describes when a baby is born earlier than 37 weeks (gestational time). Prematurely born infants face many special issues, which can include breathing difficulties, feeding difficulties, and low birth weight. Prematurely born babies generally have a longer hospital stay than babies born full-term, and many end up spending time in NICU units (neonatal intensive care) or special care nurseries until it can be established that they are stable and healthy enough to be brought home. This can be a very difficult time for many families.
There are some risk factors for having a premature birth, such as the mother’s general health and lifestyle choices, and carrying multiple babies (twins or triplets), but for many mothers who deliver a premature baby, it is unexpected, with no discernible cause or identifiable risk factors- mothers under excellent antenatal care, who do everything “right” can still end up delivering their baby prematurely. If you are pregnant, it is a good idea to learn the warning signs of pre-term labour, which include cramping, regularly times contractions, and backache, and discuss pre-term labour risks and planning with your midwife. If you do believe you are experiencing pre-term labour signs, it is critical to seek medical attention right away, because there are steps that can be taken to manage, delay, or prevent a baby from being born prematurely.
Thanks to advances in modern healthcare, the prognosis for most babies born prematurely has improved dramatically. Statistically, the earlier a baby is born, the more serious his or her health problems are likely to be.
How to Celebrate World Prematurity Day
World Prematurity Day is a great time to look back on the advances there have been to antenatal and neonatal care, and celebrate how new research and interventions have dramatically improved the probable outcomes for so many babies who are born prematurely each year. If you are pregnant, World Prematurity Day is a great reminder to discuss pre-term labour with your midwife.
Prematurely born infants often have trouble regulating body heat, so another way to celebrate World Prematurity Day would be to offer to collect new blankets, hats, mittens, or booties for local parents or hospitals who are welcoming prematurely born infants. You may also want to check with your local hospital to see what donated gifts would be especially useful to the parents of prematurely born babies who may have an extended hospital stay.
World Prematurity Day is also a good time to reach out to parents you may know who have babies who worn born prematurely, to see how things are going or provide them with encouragement. If you are interested in helping families who are caring for prematurely born infants, or learning more about the special issues that face those babies, you many want to reach out to your local hospital or birthing centre. BLISS is an excellent charity offering support to babies born too early – there are many ideas on their page that offer suggestions of ways in which the public can help raise funds for the charity.
To celebrate World Prematurity Day this 17th November 2016, I asked a client to tell me about her experience of giving birth to her beautiful twins, Charlotte & Phoebe, born prematurely in January this year.
“Charlotte and Phoebe born at 33weeks 5days
Arriving at Tunbridge Wells hospital at 12:30am on the 12th January 2016. I had been having pains for almost 24 hours. However, it got more severe as the evening went on (11th January). Monitors checked that both babies’ heart rates were ok. Finally, I was examined at 1:30am not even thinking I was in labour, to be told I was 5cm dilated… Within half an hour I was in labour in the delivery suite. Doctors, midwifes and consultants were regularly coming in to check on me. I was given steroid injections to help the twins’ lungs develop.
Around 2:00am I was told it would be better if I had an epidural (I never really considered having one, so ideally would have preferred not to have one). At 3:30am the anaesthetist came to give me the epidural. Then at 5:30am my waters broke for twin 1 (at this time, she was fully engaged ready to come). I had to wait until 6:40am when I was examined again to be told I was then 10cm dilated… I had no idea I was then going to be taken to theatre, to deliver.
Arriving in theatre, I had about 40 minutes for of me pushing. I was getting very tired by the time twin 1 was delivered, (having help by forceps). At 7:40am she was delivered and let out a massive cry (which was such a relief). The midwives scanned twin 2 to see which position she was in. And after about 5 more pushes twin 2 was delivered breech (with a little cry, another massive relief). I was allowed a quick cuddle with Charlotte (twin 1) before she was taken to SCBU, Phoebe (twin 2) was taken there straight away, being smaller. Charlotte weighed 3lbs 12oz and Phoebe 3lbs 6oz.
Both girls had exceptional care in SCBU. I was discharged after 2 days their birth, so I was travelling every day and evening to see them. Phoebe had a ventilator called CPAP for 24 hours until she decided she no longer wanted it. We had our first cuddle when they were over 24 hours old. They were put on high calorie milk to help them both gain weight. Both girls were in an incubator to help them hold their body temperature for 6 days, until they needed a hot cot, for a another 4 days.
Feeding became better as they were able to take a bottle more frequent along with being tube fed too. Due to an infection on the SCBU only parents of the babies could visit them. At 10 days old we were allowed to stay in the parents room to get used to them. If we needed any help or they took a turn for the worse we were still in hospital, with all the nurses… 2 days later they were discharged too. As small babies they had reflux which wasn’t detected until they were 2-3 months old. After this they were both put on to Gaviscon and Ranitidine medication to help.
They are now happy and healthy 10 month old babies. Being premature babies they struggle to gain weight so they are only in 3-6 month clothing. Their development has been a little delayed, but they are still hitting milestones at the corrected age.”
And here are the gorgeous girls at 10 months old. How gorgeous are those smiles?!
The Girls Visit the Studio
I first met Phoebe & Charlotte, when they came for a baby photo shoot back in April. The twins were small for their age and still a little sleepy! So we still managed some poses that I normally capture in my Newborn Photography sessions. Here’s a few photos from their Milestone Baby session:
And I’m thrilled that the girls are going to be returning to my studio in January. They’re coming back for their first birthday cake smash! 🙂 Keep an eye out for their images in the new year!
I would love to hear your experiences if you’ve had a baby born prematurely. Feel free to leave me a comment below.
And if you would like to find out more about babies born prematurely, HERE Pinterest board.