In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.
In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.
In addition to the many other hats I wear, I chair the Multiple Births Canada’s Preterm Birth Support Network and work in my local multiples group as a peer support worker. In these roles I have the opportunity to speak with expectant mothers and fathers, and a big part of my message is to educate them on the signs of preterm labour.
The day you find out you’re having multiple-birth babies is a day filled with excitement, wonder, and even concern about how you’re going to do it. While preparing to have multiples you will be focusing on doubles, triples or more of many big ticket items and you will be very focused on the babies who are on the way. It will be equally important to remember to focus on yourself; get enough sleep, listen to your doctors’ instructions and be fully aware of preterm birth labour symptoms.
When it comes to expecting multiples, you should be prepared for the possible early arrival of your little ones, as multiple-birth babies are more likely to born premature than their singleton friends.
It is my experience, though, after speaking to hundreds of expectant mothers, new mothers and well-experienced mothers alike that the majority just don’t know what the preterm labour symptoms are. So here is a list of a few of the common ones, with a link to a longer list to be aware of:
- Low, mild backache
- Menstrual-like cramps
- Pressure (as though the baby is pushing down)
Read the full list HERE and consider posting this on your fridge as a quiet reminder. Ensure your spouse/partner and family are fully aware of the preterm labour symptoms as well. Sometimes as moms we can think we are strong and know our bodies, but miss some obvious signs, so our family can monitor our behaviour and ensure we get the help we need if symptoms of preterm labour present themselves.
Maintain an open dialogue with your doctor. No question or concern is too silly. While preterm labor is not completely preventable, education and awareness are important keys in working towards a healthy delivery.