Baby · Birth · Community

Preterm Birth: Tiny, Mighty Warriors

A Birth Story:

Back at the end of July, when we thought baby was all tucked in her mama’s womb until October, we found out there were other plans for this birth. Labor began and was fast for a first birth. My client didn’t believe that this was really labor, she couldn’t believe that things were happening so fast and this early. I couldn’t believe it either but I knew this train wasn’t going to stop now that it built up this much speed. I watched and held my breath as the doctors and nurses around her understood the gravity of the situation. They bent the rules for her during these Covid times and allowed her mom to also be in the room – we all needed to be there to support and witness. Their beautiful babe slipped out soon after the bag of water was opened, and was born very tiny and very mighty at 27.5 weeks. After many ups and downs in the NICU – her first 85 days of life – she was stable enough to come home, to her parents relief and joy. These are the booties I knitted for her next to the booties I knit for the babies born at term.

You do not know the journey of a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) parent until you have walked in their shoes. If you know a NICU parent please support them with love, food, house cleaning, childcare, no unnecessary questions, funds, More Love, etc.

Statistics on premature births in the US from the March of Dimes (births before 37 weeks):
14% – Black
11.7% – Native American
9.8% – Hispanic
9.2% – White
8.8% – Asian/Pacific Islander

The preterm birth risk increases in pregnant folks who have become infected with Covid-19. Research has found that most of the preterm birth risk happens within 28 days after an infection. This finding is disturbing when coupled with knowing that the risk of someone having major complications from a Covid-19 infection increases with preexisting health conditions, which are more likely to also affect Black/Latinx/Indigenous peoples.

Things to help decrease the premature birth rate in the US:
1. Remove racial disparities in health care
2. Fewer barriers to care in rural and underserved communities
3. Demand comprehensive health care
4. Create affordable health care that begins before pregnancy
5. Provide access to midwifery and doula care (and support more Black/Latinx/API/Indigenous folks in becoming midwives and doulas)
6. Increase paid family leave