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November is Prematurity Awareness Month

November is the month dedicated to prematurity awareness.

Several organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the non-profit organization March of Dimes are actively campaigning with the goal of reducing prematurity by 15 percent.

Here are some sobering facts and figures they give us:

  • Premature birth is the leading killer of newborn babies in the US.
  • More than half a million babies are born preterm each year.
  • In the US, the rate of premature births rose from 9.0 % to 12.3% between 1981 and 2003.

And C-section seems to be a major factor in this rise in preterm delivery, according to a recent study. From 1996 to 2004, an increase of almost 60,000 singleton preterm births were recorded; 92% of the deliveries were through C-section.

Most of the preterm deliveries were considered late pre-term, happening during the 34th to 36th pregnancy week.

Furthermore, many C-sections may have been unnecessary and were performed for “non-medically indicated reasons.” Many organizations are therefore appealing to obstetrician to carefully weight the necessity of preterm elective C-section.

Prematurity, as you may have noticed in my previous post, is a topic close to my heart.

I am one of those who had an elective C-section, supposedly for valid medical reasons, namely, twin pregnancy and advanced maternal age. I was assured that both my babies were of the right size and weight to be delivered on the 35th week. Imagine my shock and grief when one of my babies was under 2 kg and therefore considered dystrophic and underweight. He had breathing problems and jaundice.

I was overcome with guilt. Should I have waited a bit longer before opting for C-section delivery? Should I have gone against my doctors’ advice and waited for the contractions to come naturally? I was really depressed, a depression that went beyond the postpartum type.

Then I met L. She delivered also twins on the same day, by emergency C-section on the 37th week. One of the babies had problems and died in her uterus. It was insensitive of the medical staff to put her baby girl together with my 2 baby boys in the same room in the neonatal clinic but they had no other place to put her. For L, it was probably torture to see me holding 2 babies while she could only hold one. And she was filled with guilt and remorse that she didn’t opt for a C-section a week earlier.

There we were, 2 moms feeling guilty for 2 different reasons although in the end, we both only wanted the best for our babies.


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