You may know your baby’s due date, but no one really knows when he will make his appearance. And if you’ve ever worried that your child may come too early, Prematurity Awareness Month is a great time to learn from other parents what that experience might be like.
At Choices Pregnancy Center, we know several women like you whose babies arrived prematurely and are thriving today. We asked one of them—Tanya Scheffler—to share her story with you.
Tanya had a history of giving birth to preemies. But her newest daughter, Adonya, was born six weeks and two days early, on August 5, 2017, launching a series of new experiences.
“I had never had my water break naturally,” Tanya said. “It was different and kind of startling, but I knew I was in labor so I got my stuff and I went to the hospital. The hospital won’t deliver before 6 weeks. So Adonya just missed that cutoff. We went down to the Cities, to St. Francis [Regional Medical Center] in Shakopee. That was my preference. They will deliver premature babies because they have the pediatric specialists from Children’s Hospital come to their nursery. It was a really friendly environment.”
However, she noted, “It was stressful because it was the first time I couldn’t have my child in the room with me. Their main concern was her keeping her body heat. They had her in a heated bassinet. There were wires taped to her to monitor her heartbeat, body temperature, and breathing. So it looked a lot scarier than it was.”
In spite of her concerns, Tanya found the hospital staff easy to work with. “When I told them I wanted to exclusively breastfeed, they were very supportive. They would come down before feedings and let me know it was time to pump. We would bottle feed her through a tube so she would gain weight.”
In order for Adonya to go home with her mother, she had to prove she was ready. After four days in the special care nursery, she was able to have her feeding tube removed and nurse directly. By then she could maintain her own body temperature, drink sufficient breast milk to steadily gain weight, and keep her body functions stable outside the incubator. On August 9, Tanya and Adonya went home.
“Getting home was nice, but I had to wake up constantly to check her breathing,” Tanya said. “And you have to feed a preemie consistently. At night, you have to make sure to wake up at least every 2 hours. It is a lot of work and it does get tiring, but it pays off. I remember when she drank her first 60 milliliters, I was so happy!”
Now three months old, Adonya is healthy and strong. And she is finally wearing clothes labeled “0-3 months,” a testimony to her mother’s nurturing and her own resilience.
How to know if you’re at risk
You may have a greater chance of giving birth prematurely if:
- You or others in your family have a history of premature delivery—like Tanya
- You have diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia or other conditions
- You smoke, drink alcohol, or use/abuse drugs—especially during pregnancy
- You experience significant stress in your life
- Your baby has certain birth defects
- You stand a lot
The March of Dimes provides more details on potential risk factors in this article.
Questions for Your Doctor
If you have any concerns about giving birth prematurely, talk with your doctor. Be sure to ask:
- Do you think my pregnancy is at high risk for complications?
- What can I do during pregnancy to help my baby be born as healthy as possible?
- If my baby is born prematurely, what levels of care are available here?
- Where could my baby and I go if more care was needed?
For More Information
We recommend the following articles if you have further questions about premature birth.
- On the levels of care hospitals can provide: https://www.marchofdimes.org/baby/levels-of-medical-care-for-your-newborn.aspx
- On bringing your baby home from the hospital: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/preemie-home.html
- A general overview of preemies and their care: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/preemies.html?WT.ac=p-ra
- On possible long-term complications: https://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/long-term-health-effects-of-premature-birth.aspx
For Local Support
Encouraging and educating parents before, during and after pregnancy is our favorite job here at Choices Pregnancy Center. If you need someone to listen to and answer your questions, provide emotional and material support, or offer you free one-on-one classes on pregnancy and childbirth, call or text us today to set up an appointment.