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For More Babies, Birth Comes Too Soon
Full-term babies are born between 37 and 42 completed weeks of pregnancy. Babies born prior to 37 weeks gestation are considered premature. More than half a million babies are born before they have reached 37 weeks of maturity.
Premature babies have an increased risk for complications, such as respiratory distress syndrome and infections. Most preterm babies spend weeks or months in a hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). A NICU has a specialized team of nurses and doctors that can care for the special needs of premature babies.
The problems don't end with discharge. Preemies can face respiratory distress, brain damage that includes cerebral palsy and learning disabilities, digestive problems, and hearing and vision loss. Complications can follow them through life.
Early birth also includes risks for lower birth weight and immature organ development that can lead to long-term physical, social, and learning disabilities.
Experts suspect the sharp rise in preterm births may be linked to the rise in assisted reproduction. This leads to riskier multiple births and more medically assisted deliveries (such as cesarean sections). The rise in obesity and diabetes may play a role, too.
The cause stays a mystery in about half of preterm births. There is no way to predict who will deliver early, although vaginal ultrasounds may help. But certain factors boost the risk for certain women:
Abnormalities of the uterus, cervix, or placenta
Being younger than 20 or older than 35
Previous preterm births (even being born early yourself)
Poor or no prenatal care
Poor nutrition (such as being underweight)
Sexually transmitted infections
Smoking or alcohol abuse
Domestic violence before or in pregnancy
Many of these factors can—and should—be addressed before conception. It's important to get early and regular prenatal care to help identify risks and problems as soon as possible.
Strategies that may help:
Commit to a healthy lifestyle. Avoid smoking and alcohol, control your weight, lower your stress, and add a folic acid supplement. Doctors recommend 400 mcg of folic acid a day. Taking folic acid even a month before you conceive seems to limit preterm births, studies show. Folic acid also prevents certain birth defects. Eat lots of folic-acid-rich foods, too, such as oranges, leafy greens, and fortified cereals.
Treat pre-existing conditions. These include sexually transmitted infections, vaginal infections, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even gum disease.
Use the right tactics for multiple pregnancies. The chances of premature birth rise if you carry more than one baby. Doctors may suggest bed rest.
Be wary of "scheduling" birth. It's not always easy to pin down due dates. Opting for a cesarean section delivery that's not medically required, or inducing labor when you think the baby is due, could lead you to deliver a baby who hasn't reached full gestation.
Space out pregnancies. Getting pregnant within nine months of giving birth raises preterm risk. Delivering at 18-month to five-year intervals lowers the risk.
Be alert for signs of early labor. These include regular contractions, vaginal spotting or bleeding, and a low, dull backache. Early labor may be halted with bed rest on your left side, interventions to slow contractions, or hormone injections to extend pregnancy. Talk with your health care provider.
You Gave the Gift of Love – Now Give the Gift of a Lifetime.
Breastfeed for a healthy beginning!
When you make the choice to breastfeed, you not only provide your newborn with the best possible method of nourishment, you may also give your baby extended benefits such as increased immunity, better health, a strong maternal bond and perhaps even enhanced intelligence.
The Lactation Center
The Lactation Center at the Maternity Place was founded to provide support to you and your newborn as you begin the process of breastfeeding. The center is also here to assist with any questions or concerns that may arise before or after birth.
Recently, the The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) and the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) recognized The Lactation Center with the IBLCE Care Award. The honor was given because the Maternity Place hires International Board Certified Lactation Consultants and has a dedicated lactation program -- an initiative that protects, promotes and supports breastfeeding and provides breastfeeding training to employees and staff.
Breastfeeding Support Services for You and Your Baby
The Lactation Center offers the following breastfeeding support services and educational classes for your transition to motherhood:
Breast Pump Rental: Found to be the most effective and gentle way of assisting mothers with milk expression, we are the only hospital in Broward County that rents hospital grade electric breast pumps, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Breast pump kits are available for purchase if needed.
Breastfeeding Supply Store: Whether its breast pumps, pads, carriers or breastfeeding pillows, our store offers you a variety of products. We can also fit you for a nursing bra, even in difficult to find sizes! Click here for a list of products.
"Warm Line" Telephone Counseling Service for Breastfeeding: Our Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) RNs are available to provide assistance to you and your baby. With just a phone call, our consultants will be pleased to answer any of your breastfeeding questions. At your convenience, you can reach us at 954-468-5276.
Private Consultations: Whether you have delivered at Broward Health Medical Center or at another facility, our Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) RNs are available by appointment for outpatient consultations. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us at 954-468-5276.
Breastfeeding Support Group: Our breastfeeding support group allows you and other mothers to Grow Together by sharing insightful ideas on early mothering. Our board certified lactation consultants are also available to provide additional assistance and resources. Sessions are free and offered the third Thursday of every month from 10:30AM-12:00PM. The location for this class is at the Sibling Room, 3 South Tower. Click here for class schedule.
Breastfeeding Basics Class: Intended to teach expectant mothers the basics of breastfeeding, this class includes everything you need to know about proper positioning techniques, infant feeding behaviors and how to manage common problems. Classes are $10 per couple and are held the first and third Wednesday of every month from 6:00-8:00PM. The location for this class is at the Cancer Center Conference Room. To register, please call Broward Health Line at 954-759-7400. Click here for class schedule.
The Lactation Center Location
The Lactation Center is located on the third floor of Broward Health Medical Center, 1600 S. Andrews Ave. For more information or to arrange a consultation, please call 954-468-5276. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm, other times available by appointment only.
For more information about our services or to register by phone, please call Broward Health Line at 954-759-7400.