New Prem Parent

Did you know that every year in Queensland, about one in every ten babies will be born prematurely?

A premature baby is one who is born before they reach 37 weeks gestation. Some babies will be born 4 weeks early, some will be born 4 months early and many in the weeks between. All are classed as premature babies but the earlier your baby is born the greater the challenges she will face – first for survival than in keeping up with his peers.

Why your baby was the one that was born prematurely could be for any number of reasons both relating to a problem with the baby, a problem with the mum or even a problem with both. To find out more about the common causes of prematurely our section on pregnancy problems give explanations and links to other sites for more information. This information can be helpful in the future if you are planning to have another pregnancy and are looking at the odds of the next baby being born early.

Having a premature baby is often referred to as a rollercoaster ride. Some days your baby will have good days or the high point of the rollercoaster. Other days she will have a bad day and your rollercoaster will plummet to the very bottom and for a while, it can feel the ride will never reach the highs again.

The majority of baby’s born prematurely will be home around their due date, some may even go home earlier, others will still be in hospital weeks after they reach their due date. The due date is the day the doctors originally gave you as the date your baby should be born. A full-term pregnancy is classed as 40 weeks.

By following the links to other pages in this section, we will try to explain the things you will see and be told, the things that will happen to your baby, and what you can expect. Our aim is to help make the premature rollercoaster easier (if that is possible).

PIPA (Preterm Infants’ Parents’ Association) is a support group made up of members who have also travelled on the Prem Rollercoaster. The greater majority of our members have no medical background, so if you want to talk to someone about the medical side of what is happening, we urge you to speak to your baby’s nurses or doctors. However, if you want someone to talk to that can understand what is happening, this is where we can help.

For the newborn premature baby, there are many hurdles ahead of him. For some babies, these hurdles will be passed over quickly and without many incidents, for others, these hurdles may look insurmountable and can be life-threatening. But remember you have a wonderful group of people in your team helping your baby at every hurdle. The doctors and nurses you meet every day are always backed by a specialist who can cope with any problems your baby may have.

In this section, you will find information to help you cope with the new world you are in.

To explain some of the words you might hear doctors and nurses use to have a look through our common words list.

To be able to identify the doctor or specialist dealing with your prem look through our Who is who list.

The most common problem that affects a premature baby is breathing or Respiratory Distress Syndrome. We have explained this problem on our helping your prem to breathe page.

Keeping warm is another common prem problems that we have dealt with in our baby’s bed page.

Remember if you don’t understand all that the doctor has told you, ask to have it explained again or discuss it with your baby’s nurses, they are usually good at putting all the medical jargon into plainer English.

Some of the medical complications your prem might face are and each is explained on their own page.

  • PDA or Patent Ductus Arterious
  • Jaundice
  • NEC or Necrotizing Enterocolitis – a problem with the gastro/intestinal system.
  • ROP or Retinopathy of Prematurity –A problem with the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye causing possible damage to the retina.
  • Intraventricular haemorrhage or brain bleed – bleeding in the ventricles of the brain. Usually picked up on a head scan. Rated on a scale of 1 to 4. 1 being mild and 4 being severe.

The primary aim of PIPA is to provide practical and emotional support to the parents and families of premature infants. However, we do not offer professional advice. We are parents of preterm baby’s and not medical staff. We do offer understanding, support, encouragement and friendship.

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