Prematurity: What does that mean and what are the symptoms?

In the Netherlands, 15,000 babies are born prematurely each year, which is about 8% of all babies. There is preterm birth if your baby announces himself for the 37th week of your pregnancy and after the 24th week of your pregnancy.

The older your baby is, the smaller the chance of complications. Parents of premature children, also called premature children, face an uncertain and difficult time. Especially when the child is still very young. In this blog you can read more information about preterm birth such as survival chances, symptoms, consequences and how to prevent it.

Survival chances of premature birth

When a baby is born from the 24th week of pregnancy, the doctors will use all methods to save life. If your baby is born earlier then chances are that nothing will be done. The chance of survival for such a young baby is simply too low. The chances of survival of a baby born before the 25th week remain very low. It will be a long and uncertain battle. After the 25th week, the chances of survival are:

Number of weeks pregnantSurvival opportunities
After 25 weeks55%
After 26 weeks71,5%
After 27 weeks80-90%
After 28 weeks95%
After 34 weeksYour baby has just as much chance of survival
like a baby that was born on time

Risk of complications in preterm birth

Always remember: the chances of survival in preterm birth are not the same as the quality of life. In case of preterm birth there is more chance of complications because the baby is still very vulnerable. This can cause damage to the lungs, brain or intestines more quickly. In addition, the chance of infections or illnesses is greater because the immune system does not work optimally.

The younger the child is, the greater the chances of complications. In babies born between week 24 and week 27 of pregnancy, the risk of complications is 77%. Between week 28 and 32 the probability is 35%, between week 32 and 34 this is 12% and after week 34 the chance for complications is 2%.

Consequences of premature birth

When there is premature birth (your baby is 24 to 37 weeks old), your baby immediately goes into the incubator. Some babies only need to be in the incubator for a few weeks, others a few months. This depends on the age of your baby and possible complications.

Complications that can occur are for example problems with feeding, brain damage, intestinal problems or lung problems. In later life, more complications can become visible. This is how one can premature baby get a learning disadvantage. In addition, premature babies can be more crying and irritable, have less good motor skills and are therefore more awkward.
Premature babies are 5 to 7 times more likely to have ADHD and a slightly lower IQ.

Please do not worry that your baby is going to get all of this, these complications are possible, but it may also be that your little one is not affected.

Premature birth symptoms

In 75% of cases it is unclear why there is premature birth. In 25% of cases there is a cause such as:

  • High fever or illness in the mother
  • Problems with the uterus such as infection, fibroids, congenital deformities or cervix that opens too early.
  • Problems with the baby such as congenital defects, disease due to infection via the placenta or growth retardation
  • Being pregnant by a multiple birth
  • Problems with the placenta such as the placenta at the front, releasing of the placenta, deformity or unclear bleeding
  • The membranes break too early
  • Smoking, drug use or excessive alcohol consumption
  • Too much amniotic fluid

If earlier symptoms of pre-birth have been identified during pregnancy, an attempt will be made to treat this or to stretch the pregnancy as long as possible.

In our experience blog you will find stories from parents who talk about their experience with preterm birth. Do you also want to share your story with us? Then contact us.

Premature birth 24 weeks

A premature birth at 24 weeks is very risky and the chance of survival is still very low. Nevertheless, doctors will do everything to prevent your baby from dying. Unfortunately, the chance that your baby will continue to live is not very big. This chance already increases considerably at the 25 weeks.

A small bright spot is perhaps that your 24-week baby gets a chance. If your baby is born earlier, the doctors will most likely do nothing to save the life.

First symptoms of birth

The first symptoms of preterm birth are hard bellies or contractions of cramps. After the contractions often the amniotic fluid breaks and then the delivery starts. If you notice this, it is good to contact the midwife immediately. Probably first will be examined whether there is actually a premature birth. This way, you will be checked if you suffer from exercise pains or real labor pains. It is also checked whether there has been a change in the cervix and an ultrasound may be made.

Prevent preterm birth

A premature birth is difficult to prevent and depends on various factors what treatment will be used. First of all, it is important that you live healthy. Smoking, drugs and alcohol can potentially lead to premature birth.

If there is a possible premature birth, the following factors will first be considered before treatment is started:

  • Strength of contractions.
  • Access
  • How long you are pregnant.
  • The conditions of your baby and yourself
  • The cause of premature birth.

If you are pregnant for more than 34 weeks, preterm birth will continue.The chance of complications is small and the chance of survival is just as great as for a full-grown child.

Are you not 34 weeks pregnant then the following methods can be used to extend the pregnancy as much as possible.

  • Hospital admission and bed rest
  • You get medication to inhibit the contractions activity. You will also receive medication that will make the lungs of your baby mature.

The above methods can possibly help to prevent preterm birth. Sometimes they only work for a short period and the treatment with medication has to be repeated later.

Information and support for premature birth

Parents have a lot to endure with a premature birth. Do not underestimate this! What is always important is that you continue to support each other. Probably women have more need to talk about it than men. That is not bad, everyone has his or her own way to deal with it.

Realize this too and do not force your partner to talk about it if he does not need it. Try to go out for dinner with the two of you during that difficult period when your baby is in hospital. Maybe you do not need that much in the first place, but it can really work wonders for your relationship.

Your relationship remains important and should be a strong foundation. Besides giving support to each other, there are also several websites where you can find support in preterm birth. In addition, these websites provide a lot of information about the possible route that you can go through. Look at:

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