Addressing Critical Knowledge Gaps in Newborn Health

WHAT IF? #WORLDPREMATURITYDAY

By Kylie Hodges on November 17, 2012
Preterm Birth

The blog originally appeared in MUMMYPINKWELLIES

Over the past three years Not Even A Bag of Sugar has grown. Increasingly I am being asked to write guest posts and to provide comment on premature baby issues, particularly relating to parents. When Mummypinkwellies asked me to do a guest post, I was delighted. Because here I can really open up my heart to you, the reader.

You see, my son was born at 27 weeks, for reasons similar to Littlebit. I had severe early onset preeclampsia. I had always known my pregnancy was “wrong”. I can’t explain how or why, but it just always felt that there was something terribly wrong. When I was finally diagnosed with preeclampsia at 26 weeks and 6 days my first feeling was relief, not fear. I was relieved I wasn’t going mad, and relieved that I was in a place where I could get help.

I had doctors visiting me every half an hour, often different doctors as the hospital was busy, but also because the form of preeclampsia that K and myself had, is thankfully, reasonably rare, so they wanted to share the experience around the medical team. I was sitting calmly, not able to read due to the visual disturbances and headaches, just thinking, using my hypnobirthing to keep calm, when a doctor asked me just why I was so calm and peaceful in amidst such devastating news and imminent birth of my tiny child.

I explained this. “Here I am, in a nice Western hospital, with access to the latest research, professionals who know what they are doing, and NICU facilities awaiting my newborn. If I was in sub-Saharan Africa I wouldn’t stand a chance”.

This, to me, is the essence of what World Prematurity Day is all about , for me. In the west, prematurity is a grave concern. Premature birth carries great personal, social and financial cost. With ever stretched medical systems and budgets, it is imperative that good treatments and predictive tests are found to reduce premature birth.

In the developing world this is even more urgent. You see preeclampsia, for example, doesn’t just cause prematurity. It doesn’t even just cause foetal death. No, preeclampsia kills mothers too. Find good predictive tests and treatments for preeclampsia you don’t just save babies, you save mothers.

This year the Born Too Soon Report into Global Prematurity was released. I learnt so much in that time, but what I learnt the most is that the most effective solutions for prematurity in the developing world are simple, cost effective or even free. And many of the initiatives will help communities in other ways too. But specifically things like access to corticosteroids and kangaroo care could save almost one million babies a year.

If, this World Prematurity Day, you want to get involved but are not sure how, why not show your support for Little Big SoulsAfrica’s only dedicated charity for premature babies and their parents. Read about their amazing work, blog about it, tweet about it, sponsor a preemie.

Babies everywhere deserve a healthy, happy start in life. Here in the west, although that start is often perilous and fraught with danger, here there is much more likelihood that that baby will have a good outcome, and a happy life. And that isn’t right, every mother deserves a healthy baby regardless of the country she happens to live in.