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A healthy baby is worth the wait

November 08, 2013

Three weeks doesn’t seem like a long time. But when it’s the 21 days between a full-term, 40-week baby and one born at 37 weeks or earlier, it can be the difference between a healthy baby and one with serious, even lifelong, medical problems.

“Premature birth is a worldwide problem,” says Geri Tamborelli, RN, director of Women’s and Children’s Services at St. Mary’s, “and it takes a tremendous emotional and financial toll on families and on society.”

Early babies have more health problems at birth and later in life than full-term babies. A baby’s brain, lungs and liver develop late in the pregnancy, and early babies can have breathing and eating problems, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, and vision and hearing problems.

Premature birth can’t be prevented entirely, but moms can reduce the chances their baby will be born early. “Follow your doctor’s advice during pregnancy.” Tamborelli says. “Learn the signs of early labor and get help immediately if you experience them.

And don’t try to ‘hurry’ your baby’s arrival with a cesarean-section delivery or elective induction. It’s best for baby to stay put till labor starts naturally.”

Prematurity risk factors
Several things could cause your baby to come early:

  • Delivering a previous baby early
  • Carrying more than one baby (twins, triplets, or more)
  • Problems with the uterus or cervix
  • A chronic health problem like high blood pressure, diabetes, or blood clotting disorder
  • • Infections during pregnancy
  • Cigarette smoking, alcohol or drug use

Visit the Women & Children's Services page to learn about having your baby at St. Mary's Hospital.