Premature birth: Vicky’s story

This afternoon we’re sharing Vicky’s experience of her daughter’s birth. Hannah was born at 35+1 weeks gestation, giving her parents quite a fright. We follow her journey from HDU to home, via various tests and feeding difficulties.  

I was pregnant and due on 2nd February 2011.

On Monday 20th December 2010 I was having strong and regular Braxton Hicks, so I rang the hospital and was told to come in to be checked out. I was checked out, althougn by this time they had calmed down, they couldn’t see any cervix changes and no contractions/Braxton Hicks were being felt now, so was sent home.

The early hours of 29th December 2010 I woke up with period pain type feelings, took some paracetemol and went back to bed, and thought nothing of it.

Around 1.30am on 30th December 2010 I got up to go to the toilet when I felt my waters pop, rang the hospital and was told to come in. Husband got me in the car at 2am and contractions started, was checked out around 2.45am, and was fully dialated and ready to deliver. Hannah was born at 3.35am at 35+1 gestation.

Had a neo-natal doctor in the room when I was delivering, but at birth she had no immediate problems, so was allowed to hold her whilst they wrote up her notes. She was then taken down to neo-natal, to HDU, my husband went down with them as I needed to still be laying down for a bit.

The next time I got to see her was around 7.30am once I was up to walking down the corridor to see her. It was strange seeing her in an incubator. It was explained that she is breathing fine, but her blood sugars were not stable, so they were keeping her warm, and she had a NG tube to get her feeds. They were giving her formula, which hit me hard as I had really wanted to breast feed. I was encouraged to express.

The first time I got to hold Hannah was around 10am that morning, in HDU. She wasn’t with it enough to try and attempt me feeding her. I tried hand expressing, but I couldn’t get the hang of it, and the nursery nurses were all too busy with mums with their babies actually there who needed help with feeding, to help me.

Towards the evening of the first day , Hannah was moved from HDU to the nursery room of SCBU. She still had her feeding tube, and breathing monitor, and had to have her heel pricked to tets blood sugars a few times a day. I remember asking them how long she would be in there, and they said it could be up to 4-5 weeks, and feeling so numb.

On the evening of the 2nd day I was discharged. I probably could have insisted on staying on the post natal ward, but it was new years eve, I just wanted to be with my husband, and I hate hearing mums with their babies in the next room to me. We still spent all day at the hospital each day with Hannah.

Many times over the next few days I tried putting her to the breast, but she just wouldn’t latch on, we were having enough problems with her working to take it from a bottle, let alone the breast. I couldn’t express more than a few drops still at 4 days post birth, I felt like a failure, and I decided to give up breast feeding, it was such a hard decision, but I was just running on empty.

On Tuesday 4th January 2011 they advised she was doing well on the bottle and they were going to take her feeding tube out. I felt so happy. The next day they advised they wanted to send her home the following day, and they wanted us to stay in the parents room with her that night. It was the first night I really felt like her mum rather than her carer.

At lunchtime on Thursday 6th January 2011 Hannah was discharged. Her milk intake actually increased when she got home. We never got into breastfeeding, and I still feel sad about that sometimes.

She has done very well and never really been behind developmet wise, which had helped a lot. She did have reflux which may or may not be related to her prematurity, that made the early few weeks very difficult and stressful. Even more so because I started co-sleeping, just to find out that the guidelines were not to co-sleep with a prem baby, regardless of whether they had breathing issues at birth, so I decided I could not risk continuing to co-sleep, which resulted in more sleepless nights and a lot of upset on both sides.

Hannah is now 22 months and a healthy , cheeky, toddler. I do worry, if we have another, that I will have another pre-term labour, it doesn’t help that they don’t know what caused her coming early.

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15 million babies are born preterm around the world every year—that’s 1 in 10. More than 1 million babies die due to complications of preterm birth and many of those who survive face a lifetime of disability. Both Tommy’s and Bliss raise funds to help both babies and families who are born prematurely and require special care.    You can find more about what they do, or make a donation, by clicking the links provided. 

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