Supersonic jets, countries battling against each other for the No.1 spot on the world’s fastest supercomputers and companies trying to maximize efficiency in minimal time prove time’s priceless worth. Every second counts in this fast-paced world. Technology has advanced, science has improved and mankind is coming up with new treatments and medications to speed up treatment procedures yet none can change the gestation period of a fetus inside the mother’s womb! That’s the beauty of nature.
Its great news for the family when a woman conceives and the immediate question that arises is regarding the due date. The time between conception and birth is the gestation period during which the baby grows inside the mother’s womb. Gynecologists use the term ‘gestation age’ to refer to the progress of the pregnancy period from the first day of the last menstrual cycle to the current stage of pregnancy. A normal pregnancy length is anywhere between 38 and 42 weeks. A complete 280 days is what it taken from the first day of the menstrual cycle of the conceived woman to calculated due date. This due date is called as ‘expected’ due date as this is the expected time around which delivery might happen and is not the final date beyond which one cannot wait. Only 3% of babies are born on the ‘expected’ due date and most babies are born a week ahead or after it.
The baby is classified under any of these categories soon after he/she is born:
Premature birth is a serious health complication which exists as the primary reason for death in children under the age of five globally. These babies are at an increased risk of health problems pertaining to the lungs, brain, hearing or vision compared to full-term babies. According to WHO estimates, almost 1 in 10 babies born around the world are born preterm and almost 1 million babies died in the year 2015 alone due to preterm birth. Almost 15 million infants are born preterm (3 weeks earlier than due date) every year. Even when these babies survive, most of them face a lifetime of disabilities pertaining to learning, visual problems and hearing complications. Preterm birth and a small physique that contribute towards low-birth-weight (LBW) are main causes of neonatal deaths. LBW causes around 60-80% of neonatal deaths and is extremely prevalent in developing countries.
Main causes for a premature birth include:
The best way to prevent health issues and problems of death due to preterm delivery is by ensuring a healthy pregnancy. Taking proper care before, during and between the pregnancy promises a woman of a healthy delivery. Leading a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritious meals and staying active can help a woman stay away from the risks of a preterm delivery. If you are planning for pregnancy or have just conceived get in touch with nutritionists/dietitians at www.firsteatright.com who can help you with your nutrition part and take you smoothly through your pregnancy term without any nutrient deficiencies.
More than three quarters of premature babies can be helped to lead as normal a life as possible by taking proper care during child birth. Administering antenatal steroid injections to the pregnant woman who is at an increased risk of preterm labor, helping the mother with kangaroo mother care where she carries the baby with skin-to-skin contact most times and breast feeds often and giving antibiotics to treat newborn infections can reduce the risk of infant death.
World Prematurity Day
World Prematurity Day celebrated on November 17th every year is a worldwide campaign held to raise awareness on premature births, the challenges faced by children born prematurely and their parents who face various hurdles meanwhile. The day is becoming increasingly important as more and more babies are born preterm.
Having a baby is a joyful experience but having to spend time at the neonatal care is the most unexpected of situations that traumatizes every parent who experiences it. Anger, fear, anxiety, irritation, frustration, confusion, guilt and shock are some of the common feelings experienced by all parents who have a preterm baby in the NICU. Avoiding a preterm situation is the best but if unexpected turn of events lead to a preterm birth, the physicians and family members are always there to care for you and your baby any time of the day. Families, hospitals and health professionals involved in preterm birth make World Prematurity Day a special one by organizing campaigns, events and activities to create awareness among people across the world.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.