Before becoming pregnant for the first time I had no idea that just being pregnant was pretty “high risk.” As in, really, things can go wrong for both mother and child no matter how healthy you are. I still had the thought that problems during pregnancy for both the mother and child were a thing of the past.
With my first, I had pre-eclampsia and even then I truly didn’t comprehend the seriousness of it for myself and my unborn baby. I kept hearing of having to deliver the baby early and to me I thought “what’s the big deal?” Well, I now know what the BIG DEAL is and with my other two pregnancies I was careful not to miss any appointments, take any changes in myself or unusual pains serious and overall I was much more aware of my body and of the life growing inside of me.
One in every 10 babies born in the United States is born prematurely and is the number one killer of babies, and those born even a few weeks early have higher rates of illness and hospitalization compared to full-term newborns. My third baby was born at 37 + 6 days and was considered premature. Even by a day!
Since 2010, the Anthem Foundation has provided more than $4.3 million in grant funding to the March of Dimes to scale up and implement several programs that encourage and facilitate first trimester prenatal care and help at-risk mothers commit to behaviors that reduce the numbers of low-birthweight babies.
These programs include quality improvement initiatives related to the elimination of early elective deliveries, smoking cessation, Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait Community Programs® and a group prenatal care model called CenteringPregnancy® (CP). This last program brings together 8 to 10 women with similar due dates, and from all races, ages and socio-economic backgrounds. The women meet for nine sessions. In the last year more than three thousand women were registered, of which 1,410 were Latinas.
Risks for babies born before 37 weeks gestation can include breathing problems (due to lungs not being fully developed) difficulty with feedings, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, vision and hearing impairments to name a few. So yeah, certainly not something you say “no big deal” to.
I realize how fortunate I am to have had three healthy babies — but as a woman who considers herself smart and educated, I sure wasn’t aware of premature risks and therefore I feel it is my duty as a mother and human to get out more information and support the work of Anthem Foundation to preventing premature births.
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