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WHO defines a preterm birth as a birth that occurs before 37 weeks of gestation. Annually 15 million babies worldwide are born preterm and 1 million of these babies die.1 Advances in medical technology have seen the boundaries of viability extended to 22 weeks of gestation but with these advances comes the need for more specialised medical care for this growing cohort of preterm infants who, as a result of their early birth, are at increased risk of acquiring morbidities and lifelong complications associated with preterm delivery.
‘What does a preterm birth mean for the affected family?’
Preterm birth is an unexpected event for the majority of affected families. It deprives them of the joy of pregnancy, denies them of their expected birth plan, shatters dreams and future expectations but most of all, it disempowers them of their anticipated parenting role which can have lifelong consequences for the family unit.
A family in the aftermath of a preterm birth finds themselves unwittingly immersed in a foreign world where complex medical equipment, technical jargon and high-pitched alarms are the norms. Parents relinquish control of the care of their most precious gift to strangers for what can, in some instances, be many months and are forced to re-evaluate every aspect of the life they had anticipated for their new baby.
Parents of preterm infants are no different from any other group of parents, wishing their child good health and to lead a normal, fulfilling life, reaching his/her …
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