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Preemie Babies

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-Watching the camera? -It's stretching legs and everything. -Stretch. -Yeah. -It all happened within 5 hours. It was the fastest 5 hours of my life. And I hadn't felt her moving around all day. And she was usually very active. So, I called the doctor and he said, "Just do yourself a favor, go to the hospital, get it checked out, it's probably nothing." [unk] kept progressing throughout the night. So, it was, 'We'll keep you here for an hour, we'll keep you here for 2 hours, we'll keep you here for 4 hours, we're going to keep you overnight. We're going to move you to labor and delivery just in case,' and that's kind of when we started to panic a little bit, and [unk] a while later. All the doctors and nurses came in and said they strongly advise us to deliver her that night. I remember asking the doctors, 'Can you even deliver a baby this young?' And we were just so horrified at it. -The whole process is kind of like going into hyper drive and it's very surreal, you know. You're sort of expecting this baby to come several months down the road and all of a sudden, it's like, 'Well, it's going to happen in an hour.' -In most cases, we can't prevent prematurity. If we knew how to do that, we would do it. A baby is considered premature at any time less than 37 weeks. So, a normal gestation is considered 40 weeks, around 9 months. And under 37 weeks is considered premature birth. Zoey Wells was born prematurely- with 28 weeks gestation. She initially had some respiratory distress syndrome, was on a respirator machine for 2 days. So, she's been breathing just, you know, atmosphere, breathing air, you know, ever since and working on learning to grow up, learning to eat, gain weight, and so forth. So, you know, in our book, she's done very well. -Hi, sweetie. Almost, there you go. And we've been really lucky she's done everything really well so far. She hasn't had any problems or complications or she's just kinda in here growing and getting bigger. -Nationwide in the United States, approximately 10% of all births are considered premature. Yeah, and her muscle tone's really good. She's- Most of the problems of premature babies are maturation problems. They're not supposed to be out yet, so their digestion, their breathing, and so on, just aren't taking hold. And our job is, actually, help them through those until they get close to their due date and in most cases, once they're getting up towards their due date, the babies take over most of these functions. Further, a whole host of reasons why babies are born prematurely. Multiple gestations, such as twins, triplets, or quadruplets, there's not as much room in the womb, so they tend to come out early. Certain maternal conditions require the baby to come out early; if the mother is sick with blood pressure problems or kidney failure and such. Sometimes the water- the water bag membranes break early, we don't know why that is, but when that happens, there's likely a premature birth. Premature labor, which we don't understand why, with no other complications, the uterus, sometimes, simply starts to contract before the 37th week. That's a very common cause. When a premature baby is born, then the expert staff which are neonatologists, and neonatal nurses, respiratory therapist start taking care of the premature baby right away in the delivery suite. The babies are transferred readily to either a stabilization area or an intensive care unit. Initially, most premature babies are fed intravenously because they're not prepared to digest. Then, [unk] gonna breastfeed. Mother starts to pump her breasts with electric breast pumps. We have a whole system set up to take that milk, and label it, and freeze it, and store it, and then, give it to the babies as need be. Initially, usually through a tube feeding because a small, premature baby can't suck, and swallow, and breathe simultaneously, so we start with tube feedings. Then, around the 33rd, 34th week, most babies learn to transition from the tube feeding to the bottle feeding with a soft nipple and also with the breast. If mother cannot breastfeed or is not going to breastfeed, then we have special formulas that are made to meet the nutritional needs of premature babies. Once premature babies discharge home, the follow-up needs vary. Most premature babies do need special attention at least in the early weeks and months. Watching their blood counts for anemia which tend to be- can be low. Making sure their weight gain is good. Some premature babies are home on a breathing monitor. It's a risky situation. There's no doubt about it. When a baby is born prematurely, it's definitely a risky situation, and so, we can't ignore that fact. Some premature babies, their lungs are underdeveloped or have other complications that we can't deal with, and some premature babies don't survive, of course. But for the most part, most premature babies go home fairly rapidly get into a fairly normal existence. -I woke up on June 18th that morning at about 5 a.m. and normally, I usually get up at 5, went to the bathroom and noticed lots of blood, and my gut said let's call 911. What they did at the hospital once I arrived is examine me and realized that the placenta abrupted, so the baby was not stressed, the baby was fine. He was doing wonderful but they couldn't stop the bleeding. So, they wanted to save me. So, they said, "We have to deliver by emergency C-section." This is the third child, I have 2 other children, Ciara and Tyler, and this was the first time I had a premature baby. The other children were full-term, no problems at all. He checked out of the hospital on July 28th, so he spent a total of 5 weeks there, and which he came home earlier than the normal due date, usually, prematures stay until their mature date. So, he came out early because he was doing very, very well. There're still lots of visits because he is still considered premature. So, we've been going every 2 weeks to the eye doctor and pretty much every 2 to 3 weeks to the pediatrician. Until that first year, and they explained that to me, during the first year, it's kind of critical still because you don't know the development stage. So, although, he appears to be fun, beautiful and healthy, they still have to monitor his development stage. What I can recommend to other moms-to-be is, definitely, take one day at a time. I mean, everyone wants to have a full-term, uneventful pregnancy but things like this do happen. I'd say, pack that bag early and having the doctor's information available, that kind of emergency kit. I mean, considering it was an experience I'll never forget, it has blessed my life. -We have babies come back for follow-up visits every day of the year including- we have twins today who were extremely sick in the nursery about 2 years ago. On respirators, and low blood pressure, and the whole 9 yards, and they're, you know, they come walking in and saying, you know, "Hi, how're you doing? Thank you very much" and so, it's a very gratifying field.