Not all pregnancies go as planned. Some babies are born too early - prematurely or preterm. We do not always know why a baby is born early, although we do know that the chance of an early birth is higher when a woman is expecting twins or triplets.
A preterm baby is a baby born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. The shorter the pregnancy, the more immature the baby's organs and tissues are at birth and the more specialised the medical and nursing care the baby will need.
The outcome for a premature baby depends largely on how early he or she is born.
Each year in NSW about a thousand babies are born more than 8 weeks early (before 32 weeks of pregnancy). Almost all of these babies need highly specialised care in a Neonatal (newborn) Intensive Care Unit until they have developed enough to breathe and feed without clinical help.
The overall outcomes of a premature birth is good, however, there are risks to being born early. The booklet "Birth before 32 weeks" explains those risks and answers the common questions asked by parents. Please remember that the risks of most complications mentioned here are small and are uncommon in babies born after 32 weeks of pregnancy. We encourage you to discuss any concerns with your Doctor and Midwife.
The booklet has recently been updated - October 2017. Download your copy of the booklet.
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