Tuesday, November 14, 2006

PREMATURITY AWARENESS MONTH

November is "Prematurity Awareness Month," and I think it is an important time for us to note what we can do to help with this effort.

I know for me I learned about preterm labor the hard way...

My water broke at 28 weeks and I was immediately helicoptered down to Seattle. They were expecting me to give birth that night or at best within a few days. It was one of the most frightening times in my life...I had no idea what was happening or what to expect minute to minute.

With the assistance of very strong medications and strict hospital bed rest, Mighty Maxwell managed to stay "inside" until he was 32 weeks. The doctors were thrilled that we were able to sustain this period of time with no infections or serious issues for me or Max. He isn't a true "32 weeker" because the stress of low amniotic fluid didn't allow for complete development of his lungs and Max now suffers from chronic lung disease.

Unfortunately I did not recognize the signs of preterm labor. I had just moved to Bellingham from WV and attended my first two lamaze classes. I was experiencing backpain, cramping and spotting but just assumed that was part of pregnancy. However, Elizabeth thought something might be up so she took me to the hospital. I remember being in a room and looking over at a poster that listed the signs of preterm labor. We read them and I literally had each and every one. A few minutes later, my water ruptured...and the medical team rushed in. What a surreal moment that we will both never forget.

Who knows if I could have prevented Max's early arrival...perhaps by a few weeks (?) if I had known the warning signs. In his case, his arrival probably was because of his choanal atresia. Many babies with this birth defect arrive early because they cannot swallow the amniotic fluid. But in other cases with "typical" babies, knowing the warning signs of preterm labor may save a child's life.

We would appreciate your support of the March of Dimes on behalf of Max. But most importantly, please read below to understand the organization's work and goals.


(Below is from Evan's blog...thanks Sarah for the information.)

Today more than 1,300 babies in the U.S. will be born prematurely. These babies face an increased risk of death and serious medical complications; however, most, eventually, will go home. But what does the future hold for these babies? Many survivors grow up healthy; others aren’t so lucky. Even the best of care cannot always spare a premature baby from lasting disabilities such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation and learning problems, chronic lung disease, and vision and hearing problems. Half of all neurological disabilities in children are related to premature birth.

While doctors have made tremendous advances in caring for babies born too small and too soon, we need to find out how to prevent these tragedies from happening in the first place. Despite decades of research, scientists have not yet developed effective ways to help prevent premature delivery. In fact, the rate of premature birth increased almost 31 percent between 1981 and 2003 (9.4 to 12.3 percent).

March of Dimes launched the fight against prematurity officially at a press conference in Washington, D.C. on January 30, 2003. The all-out effort to reduce prematurity will be waged on a number of fronts.

Goal: Raising Awareness of Prematurity
The March of Dimes goal is to raise awareness of the problem of prematurity to 60 percent among women of childbearing age and 50 percent among the general public by 2010.

While the rate of premature births has been increasing, surveys show that most people have no idea either how widespread or how serious the problem is. Prematurity is a silent enemy...and can be a lethal one.

To inform the public about this serious problem, the March of Dimes has produced television, radio and print materials that will be distributed across the country.

Other material has been created to educate pregnant women about the signs of preterm labor and what to do if they have them.

Goal: Reducing the Rate of Premature Births
The March of Dimes goal is to reduce the rate of prematurity from 12.1 percent in 2002 to 7.6% in 2010, in accordance with the the U.S. Public Health Service Healthy People 2010 objective.

Prematurity has increased at an alarming rate over the past two decades. The March of Dimes is determined to stem the tide of premature deliveries with education and research.

Education helps ensure that pregnant women and their health care providers have the latest information about how to reduce the risk of a premature birth.

Funding research is critical to the fight against prematurity. If the causes of premature birth can be better understood, then new ways to prevent it can be developed. A significant portion of our research portfolio addresses prematurity. With help from people like you, we can fund more research. Help us gain more knowledge before we lose more babies.

So what can you do? If you are pregnant (or know someone who is), talk to your Dr. about your risk factors and the warning signs of preterm labor.

Also considering making a donation to the March of Dimes. You can visit their website for many different ways to donate: http://www.marchofdimes.com/

5 comments:

Mary Karr said...

Amy,

Thank you for the information. I am unable to access Evan's and Eva's blogs since an ID and password were added. I miss reading about them.

CrystalandEva said...

Amy,
Your birth story sounds alot like my 1st. Alex was born at 32 weeks. I also had lower backpain and didnt know I was in labor. When I got to the hopsital they wanted a urine sample and that was when my water broke and he came out 5 mins later. It was so fast!!
Thanks for sharing your story.
Crystal and Eva

elle said...

amy can u post evans and evas password and id in here for maxes fans thanks coz i noticed marys post LOL i would coment and put it but not sure that everyone would read

elle said...

i was born five weeks early same thing wasnt swallowing the fluid i as u know had the reflux and cleft lip and palate and cant swallow well but 21 year later still going strong love u

Sarah Key Storrs said...

Evan's Username is evandavid and the password is pookie; Eva's username is EvaNichole and her password is butterfly