Moms of Twins: Surviving and Thriving While Your Babies Are in the NICU!

When you discover that you’re pregnant …

… you may begin to imagine the future and ultimate delivery of your baby. You imagine your belly growing as your baby grows to full term and you prepare to deliver as your due date approaches. Immediately after your child is born, your healthy newborn is gently placed in your happy, exhausted arms. You spend some precious time holding or putting your baby to your breast, and you bask in one of the most rewarding and wonderful moments of your life. You then see yourself surrounded by flowers and balloons, proudly holding (and showing off) your baby as you leave the hospital or birthing center ready to embark on your new life as a mommy!

Things, however, don’t always turn out as we imagined they would.

When your baby arrives prematurely, it is usually a sudden, unexpected event which leaves your head spinning in shock and disbelief. Aside from the situations where a baby is intentionally delivered early due to a life-threatening condition involving the mother, child or both, many premature deliveries occur simply because of membrane rupture (water breaking) with or without prior warning. This is especially true with a multiple pregnancy.

Because the uterus is carrying more than one baby, it is not only growing larger than it would with a single pregnancy, but because of the faster rate of growth, it can become what is referred to as “irritable”. Yes, your uterus can develop a real attitude. With normal growth, the uterus stretches and contracts throughout pregnancy, but increased irritability causes contractions that are more than simple stretches. Contractions can become productive, which means that they cause cervical changes such as premature effacement (shortening) and dilation (open), which begins the process of labor. In the case of premature labor, your doctor may place you on anti-contraction medication which often stops the labor process. In serious situations where labor is difficult to stop, or that has the potential for starting again, you will be placed on partial or complete bed rest until you reach a safe gestation (approximately 34 weeks and beyond) for the baby(ies) to be born.

When Premature Labor Cannot Be Stopped

Despite all of the efforts to postpone the delivery of your babies, quite often, they come anyway.

Following the whirlwind of your early delivery, either via vaginal or C-Section, suddenly there you are: no longer pregnant.

You may be feeling a combination of: shock, trauma, anger, disappointment, loss, fear and a shameful sense of self-failure. I know this, because I experienced all of those feelings after the birth of my first set of twins at 30 weeks and five days. After months on bed rest and anti-contraction medication, no further efforts were able stop my contractions, and my baby girls were born at 2 lbs., 14 oz. and 3 lbs., 1 oz.

Immediately after each baby was born, she was whisked away to the Neonatal (newborn) Intensive Care Unit (NICU). There were no sweet, warm bundles placed in my arms.

Adjusting to Reality

Unlike the way you always imagined, your babies are now completely under the care of the hospital neonatologist (newborn specialist) and of the NICU nurses. You’ve now entered a strange new world, as I did three times. As I mentioned, my first set of twins were born at 30 weeks and 5 days, and stayed hospitalized for 6 weeks. My second set were born at 35 weeks, 2 days, and although my son and daughter were born more than a month later than my first set, they were still considered premature (at 4 lbs., 13 oz. and 4 lbs., 6 oz.) and were again, taken away immediately after birth to the NICU, where they stayed just over a week. My third set threatened to come early as well, and although I was the model patient who did exactly as prescribed by my doctor (and myself), my baby boys were born (believe it or not) at 30 weeks and 5 days … exactly the same gestation as my first set, but their birth weights were heavier at 3 lbs., 11 oz. and 4 lbs., 1 oz. They stayed in the hospital for 5 and 1/2 weeks.

Because I experienced NICU babies three times over the course of 12 years, I would like to share with you my advice for, not only surviving, but for the making most of your babies’ hospitalization.

If your babies arrive early, you may be feeling …

Completely overwhelmed: You’ve just had twins, you’re recovering from birth so you’re likely being wheeled into the NICU to meet your babies for the first time. This was NOT the way you imagined, and the entire blur of events are frightening, disappointing, painful, exhausting and bitter-sweet.

Like you are a visitor instead of your baby’s mother: Although the nurses make every effort to encourage mommy/baby bonding by allowing touch, if possible, and as close contact as medically safe, you still may feel like your baby belongs to her nurse instead of you.

That you have no control as a new mother: With all of the monitors, tubes, wires, lights flashing and alarms sounding, you feel very intimidated by this strange, mysterious and frightening place. Although you know that your baby is in the best care possible, you may feel that your role as mother has been postponed. You learn one thing for sure: your arms and hands have never been scrubbed so clean in your whole life!

Frightened and worried: Depending on the gestational age of your babies, there may or may not be medical problems related to their prematurity. As you gaze at each of your precious babies in their isolettes attached to tubes, monitor wires, you fear that he may never grow into the beautiful, big healthy baby you expected. Try to relax and trust that the most comprehensive medical care is being given to them, and the chances of their growing and developing normally are very, very good.

Emotional: Naturally, a brand new mother experiences the sudden drop in progesterone with the sudden rise in prolactin and oxytocin in preparation for lactation … all of which brings on the weepiness! Compound those emotions with the above listed feelings, and you may just become a (temporary) puddle of tears.

Sadness about leaving the hospital empty-armed: One of the hardest experiences for a new mother is to be discharged from the hospital and go home without your baby(ies). Those feelings of failure, loss, sadness and disappointment may kick in full-force when you return to your familiar and loving home where, when you were last there, you were still pregnant. Rest assured, however, you will have the joyful experience of walking through your front door with your babies in your arms before you know it!

My sincere and experience-backed advice

Take some deep breaths and wrap your brain around what has happened. It’s a fact that your babies have arrived, are in the best care they can possibly be, and there’s no way to turn back time. So, with that said, here are some ways to make the most of this situation.

Find the joy in the situation: Although your birth experience was far from what you had planned or remotely expected, consider that new life has arrived, and that this indeed is a cause for celebration, albeit, a bitter sweet one. People will congratulate you … accept their congratulations graciously.

There are MANY ways that YOU can help your babies:

Take care of yourself: Whether you delivered vaginally or had a C-Section birth, take the time you’re home while others care for your babies to rest and heal. By the time your babies come home, you will probably be completely recovered and ready to take on the challenging and demanding role as the mom of multiples. Be sure to eat well, get enough sleep, and take good care of your own needs, because your babies are going to need you at your best.

Plan for breastfeeding by pumping your milk: You probably have made the decision to or not to breast feed your babies. Breastfeeding is the BEST nutrition for your babies, and it is very healthy for you as the next natural step in your child bearing process. Pregnancy naturally leads directly to breastfeeding. During your pregnancy, it is vital that you nourish your body the best possible way you can, both for yourself, and for your babies.

Shortly after delivery, a hospital lactation consultant visits all mothers who have indicated that they intend to breast feed their baby. In the case of your premature birth, the LC will bring a breast pump with all of the needed additional supplies into your hospital room where it will stay throughout the remainder of your stay. You will be instructed to begin pumping your first milk which is called colostrum. Colostrum is a thick yellowish substance rich in nutrition and antibodies manufactured by you specifically for your babies, and providing this perfect first food for your babies is the next, natural step in the child bearing process.

Pump, if only temporarily: If you do not plan to continue to breastfeed your babies for whatever reason, I highly recommend that mothers who deliver prematurely provide breast milk for their babies even for the first few days or weeks because the natural process of doing so connects mother with child, allowing her to feel and know that she is doing something for her babies. In fact, she’s doing the BEST THING for her babies by providing, what NICU nurses call, “liquid gold” for her premature babies. Premature breast milk is, in fact, different than full-term milk, and formulated specifically for your premature baby. From experience, pumping my breast milk for my preemies ALWAYS made me feel connected as an active contributor to the well-being and healthy growth of my babies, easing those feelings of helplessness, lack of control, guilt and disappointment caused by my early deliveries.

Be aware that you DO have a say in your babies’ care: For instance, you can specify that your babies receive only your breast milk as long as your supply is available, and to only formula feed them until you’re able to replenish the hospital’s supply when you make your next pumped milk delivery. At the same time, however, remember that your babies’ hospital stay is only temporary. If the nurses add formula or calorie boosters to your breast milk for feedings, and you don’t necessarily prefer this practice, keep in mind also that the nurses’ goal is to have your babies gain weight as soon as possible for the earliest possible discharge. Once you and your babies are home, you will make all the decisions about your babies’ care, nutrition and feeding methods.

Once you’re home, follow a routine for pumping and storing your breast milk every three hours: Once a day you should plan to ride back to the hospital with your husband or other family member and delivery your ice-packed breast milk stored in sterile bottles provided to you by the NICU. Milk let down reflexes and even the amount of milk you produce can be enhanced if you keep photos of your babies close by, and when you breathe in your babies’ sweet scent from their little hats or onsies that you take home from the hospital. As you had specifically labeled your pumped breast milk bottles when you were still in the hospital after delivery, you will continue to do so, so that your babies are certain to receive your milk when you return for daily visits. My husband and I referred to our trips to the hospital during our babies’ NICU stays as daily “milk-runs”!

Finish preparing for your babies’ arrival: Chances are you were not fully prepared for the births of your babies when you went into premature labor and delivered them. So take this time, while your babies are hospitalized, to finish preparing the nursery, wash and fold all of your baby clothes, receiving blankets, crib sheets, etc. If you had been placed on bed rest due to your high risk pregnancy, you probably weren’t able to prepare for your babies’ arrival at all, so now you can!

Daily bonding visits: Once you feel up to it physically, plan to spend as much time with your babies as possible. Mothers are not only welcomed, but highly encouraged to spend the day with their babies. If your babies are placed together in side-by-side incubators, you may be provided a rocking chair or other comfortable chair in which to sit and breastfeed your babies for their feedings (once they reach the gestational age for gag/suck/swallow reflex coordination). You can also request skin-to-skin time with your babies for further bonding. Skin-to-skin contact with their mothers increases wellness for babies. Hormones are released which calm and regulate both heart and breathing rhythm. Often, too, your babies’ nurse will encourage you to change diapers, take temperatures, prepare for feedings, and give your babies their first baths! Between feedings while your babies sleep, you can read a good book, write your birth announcements and baby gift “thank you” notes, take yourself to lunch or for a good walk around the hospital campus, or take a nap in your comfy chair before the next feeding comes around.

Bring personal items to decorate your babies’ bedside area: Bring drawings from your older children, baby clothes to have your babies dressed in, nursery items such as small stuffed animals to sit in the corner of the babies’ beds, etc., all of which allow you to feel that your babies are, in fact, YOUR babies … and that they will soon come home.

 

Babies’ homecoming

You’ll be surprised just how quickly the time will fly before your babies are released from the hospital! Sometimes, depending upon your babies’ weights, amount of breast milk or formula that they are tolerating (keeping down), and any other medical factors, you could have as little as 12 hours release notice given by the neonatologist. Once the doctor signs the discharge orders, your baby or babies are going home! Prior to discharge, you may be required to take an Infant CPR course, which is common hospital protocol for parents. If your baby is released on the condition that he or she goes home with an apnea/bradycardia monitor to alert you of any continuing apnea episodes (that can be common with preemies, and which they outgrow with further maturation), you will be required to attend a home monitor training class. Some hospitals also require parents to “Room-in” one night with their babies in the hospital (spend a night with their baby at the hospital the night before discharge in a special room decorated like a hotel room), so that if any questions arise during the night, there are nurses available to assist.

Once you say good bye to the NICU area where you’ve spent so many weeks and take your babies home, you’ll probably wish to bring a nurse or two home with you! You may wonder why you wanted your babies to come home earlier when you’re faced with the complete, 24/7 care of your babies!

Welcome to twin parenthood!

It may have arrived at a time you hadn’t expected, but it has indeed arrived.

 

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Proper nutrition, sleep and exercise nourish your body and provides you with physical, spiritual, emotional and mental wellness that radiates into all the aspects of your life and the lives of your family.
 For information on how you can attain optimum health and wellness, please contact me at: franpitre.reliv@gmail.com

* * *

Congratulations … and many blessings to you and your new babies!

I’m so blessed to help my family prosper … do you want to, too? CLICK here!

9 Tips for Surviving Pregnancy Bed Rest!

Whether you developed a complication early, midway or later in your pregnancy, being placed on 100% pregnancy bed rest by your physician can sound kinda nice to begin with, but believe me (and I’m preaching from lots of experience) … it gets pretty old pretty quickly! But this prescription, if you will, has a very important indication: to keep pressure off the cervix so it does not shorten (or continue to shorten) or dilate, as well as to keep your uterus quiet and contraction-free.

So, once you accept the fact that this is your life for the next few weeks or even months, the best way to survive this situation with all its aches, pains and other challenges, is ATTITUDE. My best advice would be to approach each day as a new gift, another day that you’re still pregnant, and that the baby(ies) are still safely inside where they should be. With this thankful attitude, it’s much easier to face each day.

 

Here are some ways that I found to make the best of bed rest:

1- Switch it up. If your bedroom and a living room/family room are on the same floor of your home, then alternate your scenery by setting up camp on a sofa, and keep the bed for sleeping. You’ll appreciate not having to look at the same four walls day after day. I would not recommend however, traveling up and down stairs, so stay on one level.

2- Creature comforts. Surround yourself with your favorite things: favorite pillows, family pictures and other items that comfort you, especially if you’re placed on hospital bed rest.

3- Catch up with friends. Have friends come over and bring lunch! Just because you’re activities are limited, doesn’t mean that everyone else’s are. Chatting and visiting on the phone is another great way to relax and enjoy the company of others. With facebook, mommy blogs and forum discussion access today, you can stay connected with (and not feel so isolated from) the world so much easier than even a few years ago!

4- READ! If you enjoy reading like I do, here’s your chance to do all the reading you want! If you’re not a big reader, now would be a good time to rethink that! :-)

5- Fun with light activities. Movies, board games with friends and family, crochet (I know that sounds so cliché), cross-stitch, and some light craft work while you stay on your side gives you a chance to do something productive.

6- Discomfort solutions. I highly advise that your bed or couch be equipped with some memory foam, and (at the least), the egg crate foam for better comfort on those painful pressure points, such as the hips, shoulders and buttocks. I also recommend a body pillow (or two). These are great for relieving pelvic stress by keeping your top leg resting on the pillow. It also serves as a great book rest! Luckily, when bed pressure pain becomes uncomfortable, your doctor will allow you to take acetomeniphen (Tylenol) which can greatly take the edges off. Stuffy nose and congestion can often be an issue, especially with your lack of circulation, your head not being as elevated as usual, and your increased blood volume expanding your nasal blood vessels. The adhesive strips that you place on the bridge of your nose (Breathe-Right nasal strips) worked wonders for me! Constipation (which occurs naturally with pregnancy) is exacerbated by your lack of activity because activity encourages an efficient metabolism. On top of that, let’s add the constipation-causing IRON supplements that your doctor may subscribe if you’re anemic or have low iron. Solution: eat lots of fiber, along with all your other nutritious foods, cut back on cheeses and other known-constipating foods, and stay hydrated.

7- DRINK! (lots of water, that is). As I stressed in the article on preterm labor, DRINK, DRINK and then DRINK some more. Bathroom trips are allowed and very welcomed. The little bit of walking does wonders for your comfort and also helps to avoid developing blood clots due to lack of circulation. Frequent urination also helps to keep the uterus quiet and less irritable. Uterine contractions often accompany a bladder in spasm. Don’t hold your bladder at all because a bladder infection could result, and this type of infection often leads to preterm labor.

8- Eat several light meals a day. Yes, your nutrition is vital to a healthy you, a healthy pregnancy and healthy babies. Bed rest, however, is not the time to eat large, heavy meals. You’ll be asking for heartburn, indigestion and increased constipation problems. Eat 6-7 light meals a day and be sure to include a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish, fresh dairy and lots of whole grain. Remember to take your multi-vitamin (either in pill or powder/shake form) in order to fill in the gaps in your body’s nutritional needs.

9- Older children. Having older children can be both a blessing and a difficulty. If they are very young and need constant care, you may need to recruit some live-in help, such as your mom, an aunt, or a very generous friend. If this isn’t possible, you could (as I did for a few weeks) hire a mommy’s helper to assist you with simple tasks under your watchful direction until your husband returns home from work. If your children are school-aged, helping with homework is still very doable. They just have to bring their books and materials to you so you all can work at a coffee table. Remember that your older kids want to help you, so let them refill your water bottle, bring you snacks or pillows, or put in a new DVD! At one point I called my couch my “Central Command Post” from which I could delegate chores, plan activities, plan meal menus a week at a time, create grocery shopping lists for my husband or other aide, and encourage the older kids to help with their younger siblings. I also could see and hear what was going on with everyone, too.

Bottom line: bed rest is manageable. In spite of all its challenges and the many times you just want to get up and go to the mall, you can always rest assured that you are doing everything possible to keep your baby(ies) from being born too early. Being continually grateful for all the help and care you receive, and meals friends and neighbors bring, will keep you centered and humble. You’ll simply have to give up some control and know that this will end. And when all is said and done, isn’t that worth this temporary condition?

For other tips on coping with prolonged bed rest, visit: Inhabitots.com.

My personal pregnancy bed rest experience …

… I began bed rest at 18 weeks with my first set which lasted until they were born at nearly 31 weeks. I began bed rest with my second set at approximately 20 weeks which lasted a grueling 15 weeks! My third set pregnancy bed rest began around 20 weeks as well, and lasted until I reached nearly 31 weeks, when my sons just couldn’t wait any longer to see the world! And we all made it through it all with lots of support, love, prayer and care!

* * *
Proper nutrition, sleep and exercise nourish your body and provides you with physical, spiritual, emotional and mental wellness that radiates into all the aspects of your life and the lives of your family.
 For information on how you can attain optimum health and wellness, please contact me at: franpitre.reliv@gmail.com

* * *

 

Blessings ~

  I’m so blessed to help my family prosper … do you want to, too? CLICK here!

 

Preventing Preterm Labor from Becoming Preterm Birth

With all pregnancies, it’s very important to become familiar with symptoms that could indicate the signs of early or preterm labor. This is especially important with a multiple pregnancy because preterm labor is much more common than with a single baby on the way.

The fact that your uterus is not only growing larger, but because of the double, triple or more babies growing and rapidly taking up space, the uterus is also growing at a faster rate than if you were carrying one baby. With single pregnancy, as the uterus grows, it naturally contracts as part of the growth process. You’ll notice a slight pulling or tightening/hardening sensation in the lower abdomen that is completely painless and harmless, which may last for a few seconds. However, this more rapid rate of growth can cause the uterus to become irritable and you may notice normal growth contractions become more frequent as you reach about mid-point in your second trimester (approx. 20-22 weeks).

If the contractions begin to increase in frequency, and the tightness and temporarily hardening of the lower abdomen is accompanied by pain (mild to moderate), then your contractions may no longer be harmless. They may becoming productive contractions, which means that cervical effacement (shortening) may be starting. Effacement occurs prior to cervical dilation during active labor, and you don’t wanna go there yet!

So, sit down, breathe deeply and relax. Stress and panic will only make the situation worse. Call your health care provider (at any time of day) and speak with an on-call nurse. She will immediately advise you to get off your feet (preferably lie down on your left side), and drink a full 8-10 ounces of water. Contractions may be brought on or worsened if you’re water intake is low and you’ve become even slightly dehydrated. Dehydration is the number one cause of muscle pain, tightening and cramping … ask any athlete or sports enthusiast. Your uterus is a big, powerful muscle and ligament-bound organ, and the muscles are very sensitive to dehydration, so DRINK YOUR WATER! :-)

Are You in Preterm Labor? If your contractions continue a good 30 minutes after hydrating yourself, call the nurse back, and she may suggest that you come into the office or go directly to the Labor & Delivery Unit at the hospital. The likelihood of actually delivering is low because of available medications that can be given to you to stop the contractions. An anti-contraction medication called terbutaline (actually indicated for asthma treatment) is administered first via injection after you are placed in a hospital bed. Fetal monitors are positioned on your abdomen (secured in place by velcro held stretchy belts) to keep constant tabs on the babies’ heartbeats to identify any fetal distress. Also attached to your abdomen is a contraction monitor to identify the frequency and intensity of your contractions. You can also expect a clear fluid IV to be started to quickly further hydrate you. Usually, when a bout of preterm labor occurs this early in your pregnancy, some good hydration and one good dose of terbutaline may be all that’s needed to do the trick! Once the contractions have stopped and have not occurred for more than an hour or two, you can expect to be sent home.

Prescription: Bed Rest. You might be sent home with the orders to start taking it more easy, to be mindful of your water intake, and a prescription for oral terbutaline to taken as needed. If another episode occurs again soon after, you may be asked to greatly cut back on or eliminate all activities, which will include going to work. You may be placed on complete bed rest until you reach 34 weeks gestation, when you’ll be able to resume some light activities no longer at risk of delivering dangerously premature babies. In twins or with single births, 34 weeks gestation is the point at which all doctors strive to reach in regards to the baby’(ies) development and lowered risk of complications associated with prematurity.

Bed Rest Attitude? Gratitude! Because of the fact that your babies didn’t arrive profoundly early as a result of your 2 or more bouts of preterm labor, consider yourself extremely blessed and fortunate! Each day on bed rest is a challenge, especially if you have older children, but it is definitely a survivable, temporary situation. Count each day as a blessing and know that you are doing what is BEST for your babies: keeping them inside where they will grow stronger and healthier with each passing day, and giving them them the absolute HEALTHIEST start to their lives by committing yourself (and sacrificing) to reaching the minimum of 34 weeks. Anything past 36 weeks is “gravy” according the the health specialists, so keep focused, resolved, committed and try to keep the complaints to a minimum! ;-) And remember, this too will pass, and will be worth every minute of every hour of every day. For more info, advice and suggestions on coping with pregnancy bed rest, look for the article Surviving Bed Rest on this site!

Nature’s Timetable. You’ve followed your doctor’s orders to the letter, and only gotten off the bed or couch for bathroom trips, two to three quick showers per week, and been driven to and from your OB appointments. By following this strict routine, you are doing all that you can do to ensure that your pregnancy continues. Just be patient and take it one day at a time, because each day that you stay pregnant matters in the health and long-term wellness of your babies.

However, with all that you’ve done (or rather, not done) for now weeks or even months, labor begins again. Another (and perhaps final) trip to the hospital is in order again, and if your pregnancy gestation is prior to 34 weeks, your doctor will take all steps to stop labor. If two rounds of terbutaline is no longer effective (your body will build up a resistance to it eventually), your doctor may start an IV drip of magnesium sulfate. This treatment is very effective in stopping labor contractions, but as it directly affects your uterine muscles, it also affects your other muscles. You’ll feel warm all over (even your tongue) and you may become very weak and sleepy. Magnesium sulfate therapy lasts between 24 and 48 hours, so hunker down and go with it. Unfortunately, side-effects do exist that are unpleasant. Nausea, vomiting and heartburn often accompany this therapy, but if your body is not tolerating the medication as these symptoms may indicate, your doctor may opt to discontinue therapy, especially if the regular-interval blood that are drawn throughout this treatment to monitor your body’s reaction indicate intolerance to the “mag”, as it is affectionately called. Another medication that may be introduced at this point is called Procardia, (generically called Nifedipine, indicated for heart patients) which is being found as more effective than terbutaline for labor-stopping purposes.

Birth Day! With all the measures taken to prolong your pregnancy, you may be looking at an extension of one to two more weeks or more! However, nature (God) has a way of sometimes overriding all the ways humanly possible to give your babies a later birthday. If your doctor sees that, despite all of the treatments, your labor is simply progressing, its time to accept that these babies are coming! If you are less than 36 weeks along, the best hands you and your babies can be in would be a hospital with a Level 3 NICU (neonatal or newborn intensive care unit). This is the highest level of infant care, and you’re in the best place. If your babies are under 30 weeks, a cesarean section (C-section) will be done. If, however, your babies are over 30 weeks (the skull bones are now firmer), and their positions are head down and engaged to enter the birth canal, you might be given the choice to deliver vaginally. If you are carrying more than two babies, however, you can count on having a C-section.

Congratulations ARE in order! Although you may have just gone through days of drama and trauma, and the unwanted and unexpected early births of your babies happened despite all your hopes, prayers, and actions taken by your health care team, your babies have arrived, and you need to know that this is (although bitter-sweet) an occasion for celebration! If your babies are very premature (arriving before 28 weeks), a high level of care and time will be needed, and there may be one or more short or long-term residual effects due to this level of prematurity.

Babies arriving between 30-34 weeks stand a much better chance at simply growing with careful care and monitoring before being sent home with you. Generally, the protocol standards neonatologists to decide that a baby is ready for hospital release would be weight, overall health, and  gestational age. Rarely do preemies go home before they reach 37 weeks (what would have been) gestational age. The weight goal doctors like to see reached is between 1800-2000 grams (4 to 4.5 pounds). Some doctors like to see closer to 5 lbs. Other circumstances may also factor in, however, such as illness and surgery recovery, and apnea/bradycardia (A’s & B’s) episodes (very common heart/lung/breathing maturity condition) may be occurring too frequently. Another alternative to staying hospitalized after 4.5-5 lbs. is reached and A’s &B’s are the only issue, may be to take the babies home but with the security of portable monitors that can alert you as you that an episode has occurred so you can quickly stimulate the baby to take that breath and thus prevent any further problems. SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) occurs much more frequently and the risk time is longer with preemies.

Welcome to the world of parenthood! Buckle your seat belt and prepare now for the craziest ride of your life! Be encouraged and take comfort that despite your baby(s)’s premature arrival, and the challenges it may have presented or may still present, you will find the strength through love, devotion and commitment to be the best mother for your baby(s). Trust me, you will find the strength, and YOU’LL DO GREAT!

For other resources on premature labor’s signs, causes, treatments and prevention, please visit American Pregnancy Association and The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Premature Babies. Due to the many medical complications that can develop as a result of premature birth, please refer to Premature Infant – Frequently Asked Questions, a resource on WebMD.com for a comprehensive report on what can be expected after the delivery of your premature baby(ies). Another source to check out is a research review that I co-wrote with a fellow student in a nursing school prerequisite class that I took a couple of years ago on the Developmental Interventions that can be done to improve chances of healthy growth in premature infants. Here is the link: Premature Infants/Developmental Intervention.

REMEMBER that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

So, let’s keep those babies cookin’ inside as long as possible!

My personal preterm labor and delivery experiences

…  are basically described in the above article. I went on complete bed rest with all of my pregnancies somewhere between weeks 18-22. I, more or less, experienced each of the steps listed above, with some slight variations with each pregnancy. My second pregnancy was stretched to 35 weeks, due to, I believe, the fact that I went home with a subcutaneous IV inserted in my thigh, which was attached to a little computer remote that administered regular doses of terbutaline into my bloodstream. A visiting nurse came once per week to check my and the babies’ vitals, and alternate my IV site from one thigh to the other. Along with this treatment came a monitoring system that I was required to use. Two to three times per day, I was required to belt myself to a contraction monitor and monitor for one hour. Immediately afterward, I remotely transmitted the data via my telephone to an OB nurse who would read the data and call me back with the results. I was allowed five or so mild contractions per hour. One early morning just past my 35th week, the contractions numbered 27, and I was sent to the hospital. Trust me, I knew how bad I was feeling and predicted what my off-premises nurse’s instructions would be! My son (the trail blazer) arrived via vaginal birth at 4 lbs, 13 oz, and my daughter (who was out in 2 pushes) weighed 4 lbs, 6 oz. Neither had any health problems and stayed in the NICU for one week to grow a bit and overcome some mild jaundice, and are now very active, happy 11-yr-olds.

My first and my third pregnancies’ preterm bouts, however, were different. At 30 weeks with my first set of twins I went into preterm labor for the 3rd time, and although hospitalized and on treatments, my water broke at 30 weeks and 5 days. My daughters (born weighing 2 lbs., 14 oz and 3 lbs, 1 oz), were hospitalized for 6 weeks and had some health issues, but nothing long-term. They are now strong, smart, healthy 16-year-olds.

My water broke (after 2 hospital-stay bouts of preterm labor placing me on oral terbutaline) one afternoon with no warning when my third set were 30 weeks and 5 days along, coincidentally and ironically the exact gestational age as my first set of twins. Although a vaginal birth was preferable, I was advised to go ahead with a C-section in case the babies were just too small. They were born at 4 lbs, 1 oz and 3 lbs., 11 oz. … much bigger than my daughters. Perhaps (and it s suspected) I was off my conception date  a week or so. My now 3-yr-old sons are typical, healthy, and BUSY little boys!

Blessings ~
 I’m so blessed to help my family prosper … do you want to, too? CLICK here!