World Prematurity Day 17th November 2017 — Triggering PTSD
Today is a very significant day for parents of premature babies world wide. As with many health issues you can find support groups on social media platforms such as Facebook etc personally I am a member of a few groups aimed towards anxiety, premature birth and multiple birth. It is a well known fact that multiple births are high risk pregnancies and a high percentage end with the babies being born early. Usually the more babies are there, the earlier the babies are born. What isn’t discussed as often is Singleton babies born too soon. According to The World Health Organisation (WHO) there are sub-categories of pre-term birth, based on gestational age.
- Moderate – late preterm (32 to <37 weeks)
- Very preterm (28-<32 weeks)
- Extremely preterm Aka micro preemie (<28 weeks)
My boys were born at 25 weeks gestation. Lewis was 1lb 7ozs. (652grams) Logan was 1lb 11ozs (765grams)
Of the 1 million preterm babies who die every year it has been reported the 3/4 of these babies could have been saved if they had access to proven and usually inexpensive care, such as warmth, breastfeeding support and basic medical care for breathing difficulties and infections. Just let that sink in. 3/4 million babies could be saved every year. That one statistic is enough to prove raising awareness of preterm birth is essential. By raising awareness we are able to raise funding that can go towards research to prevent as many preterm births as possible. Although, as a preemie mum it can be so so difficult to see all the pictures of tiny babies with breathing tubes fighting for their life in incubators I understand the importance of getting those images and stories out there. If you read blogs or articles that take you through someone’s NICU journey you will find most of the mums state that they had very little knowledge of preterm birth and it’s causes.
My case was a bit different however, I grew up knowing that the miracles of science could save a baby born so early. My older brother was born at 26 weeks gestation in 1977. The doctors didn’t give him a real chance of survival. He weighed less than a bag of sugar. He is now 40 years old with his own family. My poor mum then went into labour with me around the same gestation, however, this time they knew that there was a chance of this happening so she had been monitored very closely throughout her pregnancy. So with some medical interventions I lasted until mum was 30 weeks pregnant. It was always thought that spontaneous preterm labour was not heredity, yet recently WHO have stared there could be a family link.
I have tried to speak about my experiences of preterm birth with my boys in this blog but I have successfully managed to avoid my personal feelings and speak more about the facts. This has been one of my biggest personal demons. I’m like an emu. When life is stressful I put the biggest smile on my face, pretend to the world that everything is A-ok and bury my head along with my problems in the sand. I recently discovered this only works for a certain length of time then all those fears, feelings and anxieties rush to the surface and there is no way to hold it all back. The last few months have been like a living hell and I’m sure my family who are my biggest support network will agree it wasn’t pleasant for them either. I went from being a happy bubbly person to someone who took every tiny thing to heart and would explode in a rage to defend herself when in actual fact I wasn’t being threatened in the slightest. Some studies suggest that up to 71% of NICU mums go on to develop PTSD. Is it any wonder though? The body and mind go through such a massive invasion at childbirth and that is when mum and baby are in good health. Now add in additional stressors such as traumatic birth, premature birth, complications to mum and baby.
So today is National Prematurity Awareness Day. Please take some time to pray for and/or send Well wishes for those babies who are still currently riding that NICU rollercoaster.
Think of the babies born too soon who didn’t get to go home from the neonatal unit.
Think of the babies who fight life threatening illness every winter due to their lungs being damaged from Prematurity.
Think of the babies who due to being born early and fighting for life daily in the early stages are now left with physical, cognitive or learning disabilities.
Think of the parents who fight along side their little warriors praying to take their place and not see their little miracle suffer everyday.
Think. Just think. The fight doesn’t end for many parents and babies when they leave the NICU and often this is a time where the parents need more emotional support than before. The fight can continue for years and even be lifelong.
To all the babies born too soon, I salute you.
Scottish Twin Mamma.