Prematurity

Mamas on Bedrest: Do You Know The Signs and Symptoms of Preterm Labor?

November 10th, 2014

March of Dimes Promo ImageMarch of Dimes Promo ImageHello Mamas!

November is Prematurity Awareness Month. Spearheaded by the March of Dimes, perinatal organizations nationally and globally are sponsoring educational events and presentations to raise awareness of the issue of preterm labor and premature birth. As an industrialized nation, the United States fares poorly on the global scene when it comes to preterm births, earning a C grade on the global stage. This is one of  the worst grades amongst industrialized nations. According to the March of Dimes, there are 450,000 babies born too soon annually in the United States. That is 1 out of every 9 babies!

There is much being done to reduce the number of babies being born too soon. American obstetricians and hospitals have revised their protocols so that there are fewer preterm labor inductions and fewer unnecessary cesarean sections. However, the large number of infants born prior to 39 weeks persists.

African American women have the highest rates of preterm labor and premature births in the US, ranging anywhere from 2-4 times the rate of preterm labor and preamature birth in white women. Researchers and public health officials are implementing some very targeted perinatal health care programs to address the disparities in access to care, affordability of care and the quality of care provided, especially as it pertains to lower income women who are on government subsidized health care plans . Two non-government organizations with whom  Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond is partnered with are The Birthing Project USA and The National Perinatal Task Force. The Birthing Project pairs African American support volunteers “Sister Friends” with pregnant mamas to help them navigate the health care system, gain access to resources and to be a support and birth attendant if necessary. The success of this program comes from the fact that the less experienced mama has a direct resource to ask questions,  seek assistance and who is often (but not required to be) present when mama delivers her baby. The National Perinatal Task Force is a group of perinatal health care workers who are dedicated to improving birth outcomes in African American Women and babies by being a very visible presence in the African American Community and providing information, resource referrals and support to mamas in need. Both programs provide African American women culturally sensitive care and support that has translated to improved birth outcomes.

The important key to reducing the rates of preterm labor and premature births is education. If you ask a cross section of pregnant women what are the signs and symptoms of preterm labor, many don’t know. This alone may account for many premature births. A woman experiencing intermittent contractions that are not particularly strong, or if she has an above average pain threshold, she may not recognize that she is in preterm labor. Other non specific symptoms such as diarrhea or back pain may be misconstrued as gastrointestinal upset or simply a normal ache from pregnancy respectively. Since it is imperative to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of preterm labor and to seek medical attention immediately (as preterm labor immediately addressed can often be stopped!), here are the most common signs and symptoms of preterm labor. Please make a note of these symptoms and contact your health care provider IMMEDIATELY if you are or have recently experienced any of these symptoms.

  • Contractions (your belly tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often
  • Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding from your vagina)
  • Pelvic pressure—the feeling that your baby is pushing down
  • Low, dull backache
  • Cramps that feel like your period
  • Belly cramps with or without diarrhea

Again, the March of Dimes has educational events taking place all this month throughout the United States. Check the March of Dimes Website for state chapter information as well as the calendar of events in your area.

Have other questions? Schedule a Complimentary 30 Minute Bedrest Breakthrough Session to find the solution! Schedule yours today!

Mamas on Bedrest: US Preterm Birth Rate Drops to a 15 Year Low

February 24th, 2014

Great News Mamas!

According to a November 1, 2013 report released by The March of Dimes, The US Preterm Birth Rate is at a 15 year low of 11.5%. The preterm birth rate has dropped for the sixth year in a row according to 2012 reports, the lowest it’s been since 1998. The US Preterm birth rate peaked at 12.8% in 2006.

While these numbers are encouraging, the March of Dimes still gives the United States a grade of C overall in terms of preterm births when compared to other nations. According to March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer Howse, PhD, there are still too many states with poor or failing grades when it comes to preterm births. The US ranks highest of all industrialized nations in regards to premature births. The goal of the March of Dimes is to achieve a preterm birth rate of 9.6% by 2020.

premature_birth_report_card_103013-01 (1)

The March of Dimes cites the increased developmental challenges of premature infants as their main motivation for wanting to lower the preterm birth rate.

“Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of serious and sometimes lifelong health problems, such as breathing problems, jaundice, developmental delays, vision loss and cerebral palsy. Babies born just a few weeks too soon have higher rates of death and disability than full-term babies. Even infants born at 37-38 weeks of pregnancy have an increased risk for health problems compared to infants born at 39 weeks.”

However, the March of Dimes cites another, and perhaps even more widely understandable reason to lower preterm labor and preterm births-cost. According to the Institute of Medicine, Preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) is a serious health crisis that costs the US more than $26 billion annually. Dr. Howse states,

“A premature birth costs businesses about 12 times as much as an uncomplicated healthy birth. As a result, premature birth is a major driver of health insurance costs not only for employers.”

Additionally, The March of Dimes estimates that, “since 2006, about 176,000 fewer babies have been born too soon because of improvement in the preterm birth rate, potentially saving about $9 billion in health and societal costs.”

So given the almost untenable cost of health care in this country and the morbidity and mortality associated with preterm infants, it behooves the US to continue to do what it can to reduce rates of preterm labor and preterm birth.

The March of Dimes noted that while rates of preterm labor are down overall, disparities persist. The preterm birth rate for non-hispanic blacks is still an alarming 16.8% down from 18.5% in 2006 and the lowest it’s been in 20 years. The rates of preterm births in blacks, while narrowing, still remains 1.5 times that of whites.

So mamas, while I know that bedrest is hard, it is boring, it is painful (physically and emotionally) for the time being, it is what we have and it may be contributing to the reduction in preterm births. Now mind you, there is no scientific or medical data that concretely links bedrest with improved birth outcomes. But if you are placed on prescribed bed rest and you deliver a term infant or deliver after 37 weeks, you have helped do a monumental thing for the health and life of your baby. So keep it up mamas! Hang in there! You can do this!!! And if there is anything that we here at Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond can do, please don’t hesitate to contact us-here in the comments section of this blog post or at info@mamasonbedrest.com. 

References

MedScape OB/GYN Women’s Health

“US Preterm Birth Rate Drops to a 15 Year Low, But More to Go” By Megan Brooks, November 1, 2013

The March of Dimes “US Preterm Birth Rate Drops to 15 Year Low”  Elizabeth Lynch and Todd Dezen

Mamas on Bedrest: November is Prematurity Awareness Month

November 6th, 2013

November is Prematurity Awareness month.

In this video blog, Bedrest Coach Darline Turner highlights the importance of this campaign initiated by the March of Dimes to raise awareness of and to reduce preterm labor and premature births. The March of Dimes does an excellent job of presenting the statistics regarding prematurity and offering some solutions to slow and reverse the occurence of preterm births. Darline highlights these statistics but also emphasizes the need for increased support and compassion towards women who have high risk pregnancies. As any Mama on Bedrest can tell you, there is not any sort of regular support for high risk pregnant women and when a mama is put on bed rest, life comes to a grinding halt and there are few if any resources available to help a mama and her family keep life on track. This is where Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond is striving to make a difference; to alleviate the logistical as well as the emotional fall out that occurs when a mama is placed on bed rest with a supportive community and educational tools and resources. So while it is crucial that we all are aware of and understand the largeness of the prematurity issue, its also important not to forget that in the midst of the numbers and research going towards alleviating the causes of preterm labor and prematurity, we cannot forget the human side-the necessary care and compassion that must be bestowed upon mamas and their families.