Delivery of Your Premature Infant
delivery may happen suddenly or after days or weeks of waiting and worrying. If
you know you may deliver early, you, your partner, and your doctor can prepare
for a premature birth.
The premature delivery
You and your
premature infant (preemie) are considered high-risk
during preterm labor. This means that you will have less freedom, both to make
birth-related decisions and to move about freely. You can expect the
- You may need to adjust your birth plan and birthing choices during this birth. You can refuse medicines such as painkillers
during preterm labor. But other treatments such as
antibiotics or corticosteroids can be important to
ensure your infant's chances of good health after birth. Be sure to ask as many
questions as you can think of about your medical care. The more you understand
about your doctor's decisions, the less anxious you will feel.
- You will
be on constant
fetal heart monitoring. You also will be
checked regularly for changes in heart rate, body temperature, and uterine
- You will probably deliver vaginally, rather than by
cesarean section (C-section), as long as you and your
fetus show no signs of distress.
After the premature birth: The infant
As soon as
umbilical cord is cut, the neonatal staff will
watch over and stabilize your infant. If your infant is less than 36 weeks'
gestation at birth, they may move him or her to the neonatal
intensive care unit (NICU) for observation and specialized care. If you deliver in a hospital that has no NICU, your infant may need to be taken to another hospital.
During the first hours and
days, your infant will adjust to living outside of the maternal "life-support
system." This is a time when birth defects and complications of prematurity
often become apparent.
If your infant is
born between 22 and 25 completed weeks of pregnancy (extreme prematurity), you
likely will be faced with some
difficult decisions during the first month
after the birth. These
personal stories may help you make your decision.