November 18, 2019

My baby was born prematurely – here’s what it was like

Meet Maisie, born at 35 weeks and 1 of the 60,000 (around 1 in 13) babies born prematurely in the UK each year.

Now a cheeky and cheerful 16-month-old, Maisie’s start to life was not how any of us imagined it would be. It wasn’t the journey we expected and felt wholly unfair. Each day we spent in special care felt like it was full of more setbacks than achievements and, it is safe to say, having a baby born prematurely has changed my outlook on life.

Of course premature babies aren’t the only ones born needing extra help, every baby has their own unique entrance to the world. However babies born before 37 weeks are usually more prone to medical difficulties such as:

  • Breathing
  • Infection
  • Poor feeding/weight gain

Usually the larger a baby and more advanced they are in development, i.e. closer to 37 weeks gestation, the less severe problems are.

Babies are born prematurely for a whole host of reasons. They could include, maternal infection, pre-eclampsia, multiples (twins or more) or placenta praevia/abruption. Often we just don’t know.

Maisie wasn’t breathing when she was born and needed ventilation. She had transient tachypnea, given immediate antibiotics to help with any possible infection and needed phototherapy to treat jaundice. Fortunately her lungs got working fairly quickly and, after a couple of days in intensive care, she was transferred to their lower dependency units. The day we got discharged she put on 10g of weight which is about the size of a paperclip – you would not believe the relief this small achievement means to a parent whose baby has simply lost weight their entire hospital admission!

For the first 24 hours Maisie was too poorly for me to hold her, and she was connected to various monitors and tubes for at least the first week. When you imagine your first new born cuddle, it doesn’t usually include worrying about knocking out an IV line! Having seen the sheer amount of equipment needed for a very sick or premature baby, I gained a real appreciation of what my pregnant body was managing to achieve before she had been born.

Any parent worries about their child hitting milestones, and I think this is particularly true when your baby was premature. That being said, you also celebrate their achievements all the more knowing the start they had and what they have already overcome.

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