For those of you not aware, this month is Prematurity Awareness Month, and today is Blog For Preemies day.
I was lucky enough to not have to deal with the heartache and stress that comes with having a preemie, but follow stories of those that have. Not all stories end up happy, but one that did is documented on a blog called Our Stork Got Lost. It deals with prematurity as well as infertility in a wonderfully humorous but serious way. The willingness of these people to share their story, and the courage they display is inspiring. (I went to high school with Jeff but haven't seen him in years - I give him, and his wife Kerry, so much credit for displaying their life and struggles to the public and putting themselves out there for scrutiny. You'll see what I mean when I say scrutiny.)
The strength of parents that have children born 10 or 12 weeks early amazes me. The months their babies have to spend in the NICU must be agonizing. I don't know if I could do it and I pray that I never have to.
I didn't realize, though, that my chances of having a premature baby are higher here in the United States than in most other developed countries. According to the March of Dimes the U.S. gets a "D" grade when it comes to the number of premature births. In the U.S. alone more than 540,000 babies are born prematurely (that's 1 out of every 8 births!). And worldwide the number is around 13 million.
So why is this the case? Why has the percentage of premature births grown so drastically in the last 20 years?
Most of the time there is no particular reason for a woman going into premature labor. But there are precautions that can be taken to help prevent a premature delivery. The March of Dimes website has some wonderful suggestions for pregnant women to help them stay pregnant for their full term. It gives some great information on prematurity for moms, families and professionals. It also gives you ideas on what you can do, pregnant or not, to help fight prematurity.