On most occasions, labour occurs between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. If labour occurs before 37 weeks, it is known as a premature (preterm) labour. Preterm birth is the delivery of a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Going into labour early is worrying and distressing for patients and their families. It is understandable that you would be concerned about the effects this would have on your baby. In the UK, having a baby early is common; one in 13 babies are born premature.
Some premature births occur because the doctor recommends an early delivery as there are concerns about the health of the mother and/or baby.
Premature babies have an increased risk of health problems including:
- breathing difficulties
- feeding difficulties
- increased risks of infection
The earlier a baby is born, the more likely they are to have these problems. Babies may need to be looked after in the neonatal unit. However, most premature babies survive and most children do not develop serious, long term disabilities.
If you give birth before 24 weeks of pregnancy, it is sadly less likely that your baby will survive. Those babies that do survive, often have serious health problems.
We will discuss these risks with you further, if you are referred to the Amber Clinic.