Please Help Me Help Preemies

It’s that time of year again! No, no, not Thanksgiving (though it’s ALWAYS a good time to give thanks)– tomorrow, November 17th, is World Prematurity Day. This is always super easy for me to remember because it is also my sister’s (a former preemie’s) birthday.

 

This is not a compensated post in any way, shape, or form. I blog, every year, about World Prematurity Day because it is something I am passionate about. Obviously, as the mother of a micropreemie, my life has been touched by prematurity. As I mentioned, I also have a sister who was born prematurely back in the 70s.

 

Here’s what I don’t think I really got before: Prematurity can affect anyone.

 

I knew babies arrived early. My sister came early when my mom was stricken with appendicitis. I didn’t realize that a mom could be perfectly healthy with no risk factors and STILL deliver too soon.

 

But then it happened to me.

 

Fact is, “every year, nearly half a million babies are born too soon in the United States. Our country’s premature birth rate has risen by 36 percent over the last 25 years. That’s serious cause for concern.”

 

Even if you are confident that you, personally, will not be affected by prematurity (and, forgive me, but that would be pretty presumptuous), you should be concerned about the impact that this crisis has on our pocketbooks. “Premature birth costs society more than $26 billion a year and takes a high toll on families. Babies born just a few weeks early are at risk of severe health problems and lifelong disabilities. Premature birth is the number 1 killer of newborns.”

 

The good news is that there are many of us who care, deeply, and who want to effect change. March of Dimes works tirelessly to address this crisis and help families have healthy, full-term newborns. With 1 in 8 babies in the U.S. being born too soon, our prematurity rate is significantly higher than most developed nations– we rank 131st in the world.

 

So… what can you do? Well, today, I’m going to suggest three quick things that can help:

 

1) Educate yourself. Ask questions of OB/GYNs, pediatricians, and preemie parents. Learn about the causes. Visit the March of Dimes site and poke around– knowledge is power.

 

2) Spread the word. Check out how your state ranks– March of Dimes has assigned each state a grade. Mine gets a B. While not terrible, there’s definitely room for improvement. The more we know and the more we share, the more empowered we all are in fighting the good fight. Pass on this post or something you’ve learned. Make sure people realize the impact prematurity has on all of us.

 

3) Donate, if you can. Every donation counts. What might seem like drops in a bucket can, together, save lives. If you don’t have a single dime to spare, your help is still needed. Maybe you have an old phone you can donate. Maybe you can walk in the March for Babies and get supporters. Details about all sorts of ways to help can be found right here.

 

I don’t often share stuff like this, friends, because it’s not really my “niche”, to be honest. But prematurity? That’s something I am compelled to talk about, obviously, and I don’t even mind begging a little bit.

 

Healthy babies? Are a very, very good thing. Can you help me spread the word?

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9 comments to Please Help Me Help Preemies

  • mlearley

    I 100% agree that this is one thing that you never know when you or someone close to you could have a preemie. My mom also had a preemie in the 70′s, she was 17yrs old and perfectly healthy so they had no idea what caused her pre-term labor. My husband and I decided the spring after we got married that this was an organization we wanted to support since we knew one day we wanted kids and never knew if one could be born early. Thankfully it never happened but we continue to support this wonderful organization!

    • Thank you so, so much for supporting this wonderful cause, Michelle! I am so glad that your girls were not born prematurely, but your support in helping prevent more preterm births is invaluable. Thanks for sharing your story, too!

  • Susie

    Is the March of Dimes pro-life?

    • No– not specifically. A statement on the website declares the organization “neither pro-choice nor pro-life” and there is a document that they make every organization receiving funds from them sign – it forbids the organization from using the funds for abortions.

      I am passionately pro-life and work hard to support organizations who work toward that end. That said, my contributions to March of Dimes are based on the amazing work they also do in saving babies– the ones being born way too early.

      Hope that makes some sense, Susie– thanks for asking a great question!

  • Susan

    My 1.5 pound preemie did the March of Dimes 5k run this year in Los Angeles. He’s no longer 1.5 pounds, but will always a preemie.

  • Denni Tueller

    I agree that there needs to be much much more public awareness about preemies. 3 weeks ago, my water broke. I was only 25 weeks along in my pregnancy. I stayed in the hospital for 4 days until I delivered my son. He weighed 1 lb. and 15 oz. I was, and still am in a daze. My whole world just turned upside down. I never thought I would have a premature baby. I had heard stories about others, but I was perfectly healthy. I got to see my son for about 3 seconds as they rushed him through the window to the NICU. I had no idea what was going on. I didnt hear a cry… 3 hours later they let me look at him through the isolette that he calls home, for now. Breathing tube, IV’s, wires…chaos. I just stared in confusion, relieved to see that he was still alive. 3 week later I still havent heard his cry. he developed pneumonia, staph infection, baqcterial infection and was fighting for his life at only one week old. it has been a rollercoaster ride, but he is a determined little man, anxious to see the world, and is responding to the antibiotics. I finally got to hold him for the first time yesterday. Are there any resources out there that you might suggest that may have helped you. I am completely lost in our new world of the NICU. I dont know what to do, what to expect, who to ask, what to ask… I sure would appreciate any insight you have to offer. Thanks so much.

  • Laraba Kendig

    Thanks for discussing the pro-life issue. There are some who take the March of Dimes to task because while they are working to prevent preemie births, apparently they do NOT include in their “risk factors” list that abortions increase the risk of preterm delivery. Of COURSE that is not an issue for many moms, but apparently there is good data correlating preterm deliveries with D&C’s associated with abortion. It makes sense to me that messing with the cervix like that can incrase the risk of incompetent cervix in future pregnancies. Of course, they are not promoting abortion but I do think they should talk about how having an abortion increases the chances of problems in later pregnancies. That isn’t well known, I think.
    I’m not saying they are a bad organization, I just think they SHOULD be honest about that issue. It is wonderful that they are working towards helping those born too early, and I appreciate that funds do NOT go towards abortion.

    • I think fair, balanced education is super important from any large organization like this. For me, in supporting March of Dimes, I am supporting research and help for preterm babies. I would NOT support them if they were performing/promoting abortions, but I’m less concerned about whether they have a blatantly pro-life stance. I look at it the same way I view contributing to food pantries that feed the hungry– some of those hungry likely believe in or have had abortions. That doesn’t make feeding them any less of an important thing for me to do.

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