Did You Know it’s NICU Awareness Month? 

By Sandra Everets

September 17, 2019

I'm a Mama of two beautiful children, Evelyn & Noah. I've worked in Obstetrics for the past 14 years. I've have the amazing pleasure of working with women and their new families through their pregnancy, labour and delivery & post partum. I look forward to getting to know your family.

A neonatal intensive care unit, also known as an intensive care nursery, is an intensive care unit specializing in the care of ill or premature newborn infants. Neonatal refers to the first 28 days of life. Most babies admitted to the NICU are preterm (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), have low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds), or have a health condition that needs special care

A baby must make many physical adjustments to life outside the mother’s body. Leaving the uterus means that a baby can no longer depend on the mother’s blood supply and placenta for important body functions. Your baby’s body systems must work together in a new way. In some cases, a baby has trouble making the transition outside the womb. Preterm birth, a difficult birth, or birth defects can make these changes more challenging

Now let’s quickly talk about preterm birth which is the birth of a baby before 37 weeks. The preterm birth rate has increased by 20% during the last two decades to 7.8% in 2012.  We don’t know the cause of 70% of these preterm births. Preterm births are associated with high mortality and morbidity rates that have a huge impact on infants and their families.  Preterm birth is the leading cause of infant death, cerebral palsy and disability. 

Preterm labour is the presence of regular contractions that lead to changes in the cervix prior to term (37 weeks). This may lead to delivery. Preterm delivery is categorized as follows:

  • Extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks)
  • Very preterm (28-32 weeks)
  • Moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks

Preterm tightenings of the uterus are common and not all will lead to preterm birth. However, it is very important to go to the hospital if you have regular contractions at any time before 37 weeks that don’t go away when you change your activity. Some causes of preterm labour can be:

  • Smoking
  • Bladder infections
  • Incompetent cervix
  • Being very overweight or underweight
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Health conditions 

Contact your health care provider right away if you are having any of the following:

  • A backache that comes and goes
  • Regular contractions less than 10 minutes apart
  • Cramping in your lower abdomen
  • Fluid leaking from your vagina
  • Pressure in your pelvis or vagina
  • Vaginal bleeding

Parents bring home a premature baby have lots of special needs and worries along with all the normal baby worries. Often babies born preterm require special care and equipment once home for extra monitoring. The Owlet is one piece of technology on the market that’s available for all parents regardless of whether your baby was born premature or not. The Owlet Smart Sock comfortably wraps around your baby’s foot to track heart rate, oxygen levels and sleep using clinically-proven pulse oximetry.

 

 

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