Special Birth Issues
Preterm Birth, Low Weight Babies, Multiple Births
Preterm labour is labour that begins before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. Preterm babies are at higher risk of:
- breathing difficulties
- sucking and swallowing problems
- bruising and bleeding
- problems maintaining body temperature
The earlier your baby is born before term, the greater the risk of developing lifelong problems such as:
- vision problems
- breathing difficulties
- learning problems
- walking difficulties
To reduce your risk of preterm labour:
- go to regular prenatal visits with your health care provider
- follow Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide (to find out how, click here)
- do not smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs
- seek help if you are abused
- avoid strenuous work and do not work for more than 8 hours
- talk with your health care provider about any extra stress in your life
- try to have time to rest each day
- wear your seat belt low and over the pelvic bones, with the shoulder belt worn normally
- listen to your body and talk with your health care provider if you feel that something is different
Contact your health care provider and go to the hospital right away.
Caring for Your Preterm Baby
Your preterm baby may need to be separated from you at birth if special care is required. Have your partner go with the baby to the nursery if possible. You should be able to visit your baby soon after the birth.
Preterm babies, like all babies, need to be touched, stroked, and talked to, even while inside the incubator or isolette. When your baby is well enough, you may be encouraged to have skin‑to‑skin contact. This is called Kangaroo Care. Your baby is unwrapped and placed on your chest where he or she can hear your heart beat, feel you breathing, and breastfeed. You may need extra support with breastfeeding your preterm baby.
Preterm babies may have problems breathing while in an infant car seat. They need to be checked in their car seat before leaving the hospital. Once at home, it is important that your preterm baby be placed on his or her back for sleeping.
Low Weight Babies
About one‑third of low birth weight babies (less than 2.5 kg or 5 1/2 lb.) are born at term (40 weeks gestation). Low weight babies may have some of the complications seen in the preterm baby. As with the preterm baby, the low weight baby should be encouraged to have skin‑to skin contact. This will keep the baby warm and encourage extra breastfeeding. You may need extra support with breastfeeding. Once at home, it is important that your baby be placed on her or his back for sleeping.
Multiple births (twins, triplets, or more) can cause complications with your pregnancy, labour and birth. The babies can be delivered vaginally or by caesarean section. The type of delivery depends on the position of the babies in your uterus, their gestational age, and their health. Multiples can be breastfed successfully. Feeding early and often will help you to have enough milk for all of your babies. Try different positions for holding your babies while breastfeeding. Parents of multiples need extra support and assistance with their infants. Do not be afraid to ask for help when you get home.