A mother's story of when her baby arrived early

A mum tells Helen O’Callaghan about having a premature baby.

WHEN Nicola Coughlan’s son, Sam, was born in May 2016 at 28 weeks gestation, he weighed just 2lbs and could fit in dad Ciarán’s hand.

“I felt very scared. It’s not your plan to have a premature baby. My plan was to have a normal delivery and go well into the late 30s in terms of weeks. I felt shocked and fearful of the unknown,” says Greystones-based Nicola, a financial analyst who’d had high blood pressure before getting pregnant.

“After seven weeks of pregnancy, my blood pressure started to sky-rocket. I was monitored every week. I was aware I could develop pre-eclampsia, which would mean early delivery.”

Yet when Nicola woke up early one morning with severe heartburn, she didn’t realise it was the onset of pre-eclampsia. 

“I’d had heartburn through the pregnancy so it felt normal. The midwife gave me an antacid but the pain kept coming in waves — like someone was kicking me full force across the top of my stomach.”

That evening — nauseous and dizzy — Nicola had blood tests in hospital and immediately it was decided to do an emergency C-section. 

“I was the most relaxed person. I had no idea how sick I was. I’d even sent Ciarán home, telling him I just had heartburn!”

Sam spent seven weeks in hospital — for a week, he was on C-PAP to help him breathe because his lungs were under-developed. He got a blood transfusion due to low haemoglobin. He finally went home weighing just over 4lb and feeding well.

When Nicola looks back to her son’s stay in hospital just over a year ago now, she knows the tiny nappy launched recently by Pampers would have made things just that bit easier. 

Their smallest nappy yet, Pampers size P3 is three sizes smaller than a regular newborn nappy and suitable for babies weighing as little as 1.8lb (800g). 

“The nappies in the neonatal ICU last year were too big. We had to roll them down or cut them to make them fit. It made something as normal as changing your baby very difficult.”

The P3, she says, will allow parents that “little bit of normality” in a highly stressful situation.

Regular newborn nappies have a wide core that can push baby’s legs apart, not allowing hips and legs to rest comfortably — most nurses agree this disrupts healthy growth and development. 

Pampers is partnering with Irish Premature Babies, a charity for babies born premature/sick, and is donating 300,000 of the preemie nappies free to Irish maternity hospitals.

TAKE CARE

Irish Premature Babies advises family/friends:

* Be sensitive to the emotional strain of premature birth on parents.

* Baby may be very sick — avoid being too congratulatory. Acknowledge what parents are going through and their fears for baby.

* Yet, recognise baby. Even when outcome’s uncertain, parents appreciate baby gifts.

* Be thoughtful if sending cards. Go for blank cards — write your own heartfelt message.

* See www.irishprematurebabies.com 


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