A normal pregnancy usually lasts about 37 to 42 weeks; this period is called ‘gestation’. It is an important period because during the gestation period, the baby develops fully, and this growth or development can hinder if they were born before the period of gestation – even if it is by only 2 or 3 weeks. Any baby that is born less than 37 weeks is called premature. Babies born between 37 to 42 weeks are called ‘full term babies’. If they cross 42 weeks, it is called ‘post term babies’. Premature babies have lower birth weight and are prone to developing complications of the lungs, heart, kidney, and blood; if they are left untreated, the baby will die. Even if the babies show improvement from treatment, the chances of them developing more sicknesses are very high in the later stage of their growth.
A recent study conducted by some universities in the United Kingdom shows that premature babies run the risks of developing poor health when they grow. Their in-depth study that covered a large population over a period of time revealed interesting discoveries: Compared to the full-term babies, they found that the normal weight, height and the general well-being was affected. The babies that are worst affected are those that are born before 33 to 36 weeks.
In some cases, the mothers are also responsible for delivering premature children. A mothers’ ill-health can play a major role. For example, if she suffers from heart disease, the chance of her going to labor early is very, very high. Let us look at some of the other factors that contribute to this:
Infection in her urinary bladder
Infection of the amniotic membrane
Rupture in her placenta
Her Cervical incompetence
Defects in her uterus
Lack of nutrition in her diet
Improper prenatal care
Age of the mother
Babies that are born to mothers with the above-mentioned issues run the risk of jaundice, pneumonia, anemia, hypoglycemia, hemorrhage, and other infections and disorders of the internal organs. These babies usually have low body fat and weight, and the veins in the body are usually prominent. Their breathing pattern and muscle tone are severely affected. In most cases, the babies die soon after birth. Or, they may linger for a few days or weeks before they die. Only a few survive this ordeal and live, but as the study shows they will always be prone to diseases in their early lives.
In order to avoid going into premature labor or avoid delivering a premature baby, a mother needs to be in good health — this is imperative. It is better for a mother not to conceive if she suffers from major diseases of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and from other illnesses that she can pass on to her baby.
Mothers, during pregnancy, must eat healthy foods. They must eat colored vegetables, nuts and grains of all kinds, lean meat, colorful fruits, and consume low-fat diary products. They must exercise – walking is the best form of exercise for a mother with child. Also, the mothers should avoid stress and depression because it can harm the foetus.