World Prematurity Day is observed on November 17, every year to seek attention and to create awareness about the medical facilities, care needed for the preterm babies. The theme for the year 2019 is “Born Too Soon: Providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”

Founded by European Parent Organization in 2008, World Prematurity Day is conducted at regional, national and international levels involving medical professionals, hospitals, parents and non-profit organizations working for the welfare of premature babies.

world prematurity day

According to statistics, every year around 15 million babies are born premature worldwide which means 1 in every 10 babies is preterm.

What Is A Premature Birth?

Babies born before the 37th week of gestation are referred to as premature births. Premature birth puts the newborn at a higher risk of complications, owing to the underdeveloped vital organs in the body including lungs, digestive system, skin besides a very weak immune system.

What Causes Premature Delivery of the Baby?

Various factors can lead to preterm births. A pregnant woman suffering from heart, kidney, diabetes, high blood pressure-related complications are likely to deliver a few weeks before the due date.

Poor nutrition during pregnancy, smoking, urinary tract infection, drug abuse, advanced age, weak uterus and cervix are other causes.

Why Premature Babies Need Extra Care?

Babies born preterm face various health risks and complications due to their underdeveloped body parts and weaker immune system. In case of premature delivery by the mother, the baby will be immediately shifted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) which offers protective facilities for the baby to survive healthily. Also Read: Newborn Care Week: Dos & Don’ts With Your Little One

The baby’s progress will be monitored by the specialists round-the-clock and vitals like blood pressure, respiratory rate, heart rate and temperature will be constantly maintained to avert major complications.

Depending on the need, the baby will be fed mother’s milk or formula milk through intravenous lines, umbilical catheter, oral or nasal feeding.

Are Parents Allowed Into NICU?

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a highly restricted area in any hospital to prevent infections. However, many hospitals encourage mothers to spend time with their newborn baby as it provides comfort to the newborn.

Few experts recommend Kangaroo care in which the baby gets placed on the mother’s bare chest for facilitating tummy to tummy contact, for better growth. Studies reveal that holding baby closer helps in maintaining healthy body temperature, stimulates the production of breast milk for better lactation and contributes towards the weight gain of the baby. Also Checkout: World Breastfeeding Week: Diet Plan For Better Lactation- Infographic

5 Ways To Care For Your Preterm Baby:

Gently touch your baby. Get the newborn used to the mother’s touch.

Talk and sing to the baby. The newborn can recognize the voice of the mother and father and it comforts them.

Ask your doctor if it is permitted to cradle your baby. If allowed, gently cradle for 5 minutes a day, in the arms.

If the baby is being fed intravenously, express breast milk in a bottle and give it to the medical staff. Breast milk is a whole source of nutrients that will ensure a faster recovery.

Participate in giving a shower to the baby. Initially, the doctors may recommend gently wiping the skin with sponges or washcloths.