31 responses to “Premature Babies”

  1. womantowomancbe

    This is so great — I’d never thought about the additives before; and while I’ve heard of kangaroo care, I’d never read much about it. Thanks for the article!

    -Kathy

  2. Kel

    fantastic article and pics lisa. thanks.

  3. Aidan's mom

    I am ALL for kangaroo care and did a LOT of it with my son, and IUGR 28 weeker. But, the idea of doing any kind of a homebirth (as pictured above) at only 33 weeks gestation seems completely crazy to me. I know work on a parent advisory committee for a NICU and there are plenty of 33 weekers who really do need to be in a NICU and not born in a bathtub.

    I think the ideal environment for a preemie was the one we were fortunate enough to have. The hospital where he was born was a level 3 NICU. He needed serious respiratory support in the beginning and was ventilated for 7 weeks.

    But it is a quiet unit with minimal stim from the staff. Vitals on sick but stable babies are done fairly infrequently. It is a private room NICU unit where each baby’s isolette is in a singular room to minimize light and noise. The room has a bed for mom and/or dad to sleep in at any time they wish and an adjacent bathroom for mom/dad to clean up. Infants on ventilators have a nurse that has only that baby in her charge that shift.

    I was able to begin kangarooing as soon as my son was stable at only 5 days of age. And he was only 1.5 lbs.

    The ability to have such a balance of thoroughly appropriate medical care and kangarooing does exist.

  4. Lauren

    Hey Lisa could you tell us a little more about the mother and baby being born at 33 weeks? (the people in the first photo) Was it a homebirth and were you the midwife?

    I ask this because I have never even realised that a homebirth – if it is – could be apparently safe at 33 weeks!!! If that is right then I am astounded! How are they both going these days?

    I just completely thought that any baby born under 37 weeks was at risk and MUST be in a hospital! I’m just so shocked!!! In a good way!!!

  5. Anita

    I was shocked at the additives in neonate medicines – why do they even NEED flavouring?! :o

    That article on Kangaroo-care is fascinating, I’m off to share it with others now, thankyou!

  6. lotusbirther

    Thanks for posting this information – it is surprising and shocking yet heartwarming to know that there are people who care, people who advocate kangaroo care and people speaking up about these important issues for our mothers, babies and families all round.

  7. Jo

    Interesting point made about the high-needs baby. Had I not been so sore with a C/S and tired and led to believe that my baby needed to be rocked to sleep in a cot rather than carried around in ‘my pouch” and/or breastfed to sleep, maybe my first baby needn’t have suffered hours from his mummy, and even now had a closer bond. My next one, also quite overdue, had to a degree kangaroo care in the form of lots of connected mummy time as I constantly breastfed, for hunger, comfort and sleep. Looking back now, I’m sure their personalities were (and still are) quiet different (serious and reserved and a little distant vs outgoing, carefree and snuggly) but I can’t help think that more kangaroo care with the first would have made the world of difference to both of us. Go Lisa, great info, keep it coming. I’m passing this on too.

  8. Anonymous

    What a glorious picture of birth! I am a little biased, as that’s my arm to the right of the picture…

    The article you posted, plus my vicarious experience of seeing my nephew kangaroo-cared from 33wks only highlights to me how much of the ‘care’ hospitals can provide can actually serve to damage, disturb and pathologise the baby and its condition. The basic principle of assuming all is normal (or near enough) and only intervening when indicated has been soundly supported in this situation; I hope others can see it that way too.

    And, I am stunned that medicines etc. for premature babies are flavoured and coloured!! Why? What purpose does it serve? If hospitals better understood and supported the provision of breastmilk to premature (and all others) babies, I’m sure their health would be significantly improved.

  9. Rixa

    Lisa,
    Is this a birth you attended? I love the expression on the woman’s face!

  10. Julie

    Great post Lisa.

    What baby wouldn’t want kangaroo care if the circumstances allow? I get quite concerned when babies are needlessly put in those cribs without much physical contact. Such a distressing contrast to being all snuggly in the womb. Great pictures. Look how content he is!

  11. Lisa Barrett

    Rixa, mine is the head in the corner.

  12. Rixa

    I thought so–so was this at home? In hospital?

  13. Lisa Barrett

    homebirth. Total Kangaroo Care, some donated ebm but not much needed. Woman was fantastic baby totally brilliant.

  14. Rixa

    Wow, that is amazing. I wrote on my blog last month that my cutoff for a home birth was 36-37 weeks, but frankly I would probably push it earlier; it’s finding a supportive midwife that would be nigh to impossible. I feel that for a baby able to breathe and suck on its own, a hospital NICU can be a very hostile environment.

  15. Lisa Barrett

    I agree, a drip, tube and incubator, all standard practice for a 33 week baby is horrible. Pain and the constant stimulation of the gag reflex causes more stress than anything, plus the attitude that you shouldn’t “over handle” a baby but he should sit in a plastic box all alone. These acts are inhumane on so many levels.

    All that said, hospitals are fantastic if there is a problem nd in this day and age we are lucky to be able to access acute care if required. We would at a heart beat have taken this baby for medicalised care if we needed to.

    1. melanie

      when my 28wker was born at the NICU they actaully did encourageme to handle him. i was too nervous to for the first week (i dont remember how long it was exactly,maybe i handled him sooner) but the nurses told me all about the benifits of kangaroo care and that my chest was thebest place for him. when i did feel comfortable handling him, i as there every day and held him for 8hrs.

  16. Hayley Ferguson

    I needed a brush up on the research of KC, thanks Lisa. I am currently pregnant with my 10th no.5 miscarried. My first was a planned homebirth but when she was born at 32 weeks the midwife told us to go to hospital. I wish I haden’t…I had even read Dr Odents books and was aware of some of what you just posted. That was my only hospital birth. My great-grandmother used to say to people when they questioned her four homebirths (in the UK) “why would I want to go there (hospital) they’ll just make me sick”, wish I could have met her she sounds awesome. Anyway, I post this comment as an encouragement. Our first three were premmie (32w, 36w, 35w) the 2nd and 3rd being born unassisted at home. The second came quickly after three weeks of spiritus labor…took 5 mins after waking up with membranes ruptured. I had always read heaps even with my first (I was 19 yo and my husband 24) so we just figured with the third that unless something wasn’t “quite right” we could “do this.” Then all my babies had been full-term until the last one who was born while we were on holiday (in the holiday appts…that’s what the birth certificate says…Centerpoint Holiday Appartments.) at Caloundra, Queensland at 34 weeks. I felt like I needed to go to hospital so we called the Ambos but he’d been born by the time they arrived. They then took us to Nambor b/c he was so small (we said no but they then asked my mum who said he looked underdone, thanks mum.) Nambor, after much explaining on our part and them trusting because we had so many children, the first three prem, that we could take him that day (against hosp protocol) as long as we came back if anything changed. No worries we said. So yes (as you know) prems can do much better generally with KC and most likely a home environment. I have to say I love your site. I’m sure we’d disagree on spiritual matters, but I have to say I love your spunk…can I say that?? Keep up the good fight.

  17. Kathleen

    I’ve been a nurse for about five years and have worked in 2 different NICUs for approximately two of those five years. I must say that although I find a lot of your work very touching and wonderful, I also feel you’ve overly portrayed hospitals and hospital staff as terrible places, with non-caring workers. While this is sometimes true, one cannot generalize that all are that way. One thing that I can certainly attest to is that we’ve saved the lives of countless babies. Something that stuck out to me was when you implied that all 33 weekers in NICU get a “drip, tube and incubator ” This is simply not true. We’ve had countless 33 weekers that do well and don’t need any of this. We’ve also had countless 33 weekers that do need all of this. I’ve seen 24 weekers do kangaroo care, and also never get a single dose of Lasix in their entire NICU stay. I’ve also seen countless term babies with anoxic brain injuries, pneumonia, severe hypoglycemia, and congenital birth defects, all unexpected but lucky enough to be able to be immediately treated in the NICU. We’ve seen over and over how much time can influence the outcome of the baby. Although we often expect and want the birthing process to go smoothly and without problems, I am reminded everyday why I will be having my own children in a hospital. I’ve seen the worst of the worst, when all was supposed to fine. I encourage you to shed light on the goodness that many nurses and doctors do on a daily basis.

    1. Karissa

      My son’s birth was a planned homebirth. We transferred to hospital because his heart rate was dropping while I was pushing. He was born via vacuum assistance at the hospital. Apgar at 1 min was 5 and at 5 mins was 8. He was full term seemed well initially, but he is in the category that Kathleen mentioned where the unexpected happens. *Something* happened to him while he was in utero and he suffered a brain injury as a result (Hypoxic-Ischaemic Encephalopathy). He was also severely hypoglycaemic. Honestly, I am not over the fact that I didn’t get the birth that I wanted and I still hope that I will get my homebirth next time, but I do know that if my son was born at home, he would probably be dead now. As a result of his brain injury he started having seizures at about 5 hours old, and needed to be resuscitated several times before being ventilated, and he required every bit of intervention he received in the NICU. I don’t think I will ever get over the injustice I feel at things not being how they were *supposed* to be, but will remain eternally grateful for the modern medicine that was available when we needed it. I would like to say though, that my homebirth midwife was my number one BEST support person throughout our entire ordeal, despite the fact that we didn’t end up birthing at home and despite the fact that my son was hospitalised for 12 days after his birth. He is now 9.5 months old, and is not without challenges but is doing extremely well and we are still in contact with our homebirth midwife.

      1. Olivia

        Karissa – If you ever see this (and I hope that you will), please email me at: olivia_j_greenham@hotmail.com . I also have a baby with HIE (III, for what it’s worth) and I am always interested in other HIE babies. My LO’s apgars were 2 and 7, born blue with the cord wrapped around his neck. He had seizures starting at 36 hours old, and apneic episodes prior to that…long story short, although we prepared to say goodbye at 5 days old, he is 10 months old now and has global developmental delay and all that goes along with that. He is a very happy baby and is on the side of “doing very well” compared to his initial diagnosis. I’d love to hear how your baby is doing….again, I hope that you see this some day. :)

  18. Cara

    I am intrigued by the very preterm birth at home. KC and some EBM is all that was needed for this baby? How is s/he now? How many preterm babies have you delivered at home and how many were totally fine with just KC? How many transferred to NICU? What is your cutoff gestation for delivery at home? Is there evidence or research to support this practice?
    I am asking because I really seek to understand and expand my knowledge base as I work with preterm births myself.
    Thanks, Cara

  19. Emily

    My last baby was born at 33 weeks gest (pprom @32 weeks), as gorgeous as homebirth is I for one am grateful I was in hospital on bed rest for the week as I ended up with Chorioamnionitis, putting both myself and bub in harms way, after a horrible attempt at an induction I was taken for an e/c-section.. My little one was in hospital for 4 weeks, spent less then a week in a “plastic box” the rest of the time was in an open cot…. She is now a healthy almost 11 month cheeky baby….

  20. Ann

    Nice post. Have you seen the video about the mother who brought her premature child back to life. Doctors tried to revive him for some time but finally he was pronounced dead, and given back to his mother. Once in her arms he “came back to life” over time. A mothers touch is more powerful than modern medicine.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMAzOjExKMw

  21. RONNIE

    I Love what you are doing , by the way ,am a Medical student, Keep it going on

  22. Alexross

    I know each birth, woman and baby are unique but what would be a cut off date that you would advise a woman to go to a hospital since kangaroo care has shown effective is babies born up to ten week early? Before 32 weeks? Before 30 weeks?

  23. melanie

    my son was born at 28 weeks and had to stay at the NICU for 2 months. the nurses and doctors did a FANTASTIC job there. i dont know much about home births, but i do wonder about the availability of emergency equipment needed if something were to go wrong that needed attention immediately. The reason why im concerned about that is because i was whisked away from one hospital to another becasue the second hospital had better facilities and technology to deal with such a premature birth. i also assume that there isnt a midwife to keep an eye on the baby 24/7 like the nurses at the NICU. as a first time mom it made me feel “safer” to be at the hospital, knowing that there were experts readily at hand anytime my baby had any problems. Also, being able to share stories with the other moms going through the same experience as I helped me a lot emotionally.

  24. Allison

    I’m like Kathleen, been an RN for 4 years, NICU nurse for 18 months in a level III NICU (and the only surgical NICU in the province). I am SUPER pro-home birth, midwife, breastfeeding, KC and work my ass off to ensure that every parent who wants to hold gets to hold. I spend hours every shift teaching teaching teaching, advocating for parents, educating them, empowering them to as much as they are able/willing to do. I feel deeply fortunate to have access to donor EBM for all of our tiny prems so that we don’t have to give formula. My co-workers care deeply about the babies and families we care for, we celebrate birthdays and milestones that most people would never even think of (finally being big enough to co-ordinate suck-swallow-breathe, being awake enough to finish an oral feed, be it breast or bottle, being switched from a biphasic to CPAP mode of non-invasive ventilation, hitting the 2kg mark, etc). I’m also lucky that we don’t have the drugs with all those chemicals you’re talking about. Our medications come in plain form, unflavoured and indoctrinated, so there are NICUs out there who use this stuff. Plus, if you have to give a baby lasix, then you’re looking at a much bigger problem (usually BPD, or sometimes if we have to transfuse a baby with blood we give a little bit of lasix afterwards so we don’t fluid overload them).

    However, I’m really put off by your continual dismissal of the hard work health care providers do to save some babies lives. We see less than 1% of the babies born in the province every year, that 1% WOULD die without us, vacuum assist, emergency c-section, “terrible inductions”, and all. I have friends who have had wonderful home births, I have also been present during the resus when a home birth goes horribly horribly wrong (none of the babies with home-birth gone wrong survived, thankfully there are very few of them, but it’s still heartbreaking).

    We know that the babies don’t get a lot of sleep, but when you have a baby who is dying in front of you, you do everything in your power to keep that little one’s heart beating and lungs oxygenating and blood circulating that you possible can, so that they have a chance to live.

    I think midwives are amazing, they are (for the most part) skilled and highly trained and wonderful and thoughtful and so so so great. My co-workers (for the most part) are equally skilled and highly trained and wonderful and thoughtful and so so so great. I find it deeply unfortunate that the two sides seem to be unable to co-exist. Midwives in my profession are not seen in a positive light, and I know that midwives think we ignore babies and enjoy causing them pain (which is not true) or do things unnecessarily.

    Anyways, thank you for doing what you do and giving mamas an opportunity to birth their way!! We’ll be here when it doesn’t go quite right (which thankfully happens not very often now!!).

  25. Cleammide

    Right now read the topic! good thread. Salad calories