I’ve had this weeks blog posts about having an only child scheduled for a week or so, I think I wrote them whilst on holiday. Then I was asked to join in the rolling out of the Global Action Report on Preterm Birth today in the UK by Tommy’s. It all ties in quite nicely so please get yourself a cuppa as this is a long, but interesting and incredibly important, read.
When I look at some of the figures in this report it makes me resolute that we have made the right decision not to have any more babies.
- Each year 15 million babies are born too early (worldwide).
- More than 1 million of those die shortly after birth.
- 75% of these could survive with inexpensive treatment (in the developing world).
- Preterm births are leading cause of death in newborns and second cause of death after pneumonia in children under the age of 5 in the UK.
- The numbers of preterm births are rising almost everywhere, including in the UK. Preterm birth rates in the UK are increasing at a rate of 1.5 percent (1990-2010).
- UK rates of preterm births are 7.8 percent of live births (2010)
- The UK ranks 46thout of 184 countries for numbers of preterm births (2010), even in our developed country with all of our resources we still rank 46th, that amazes me! The countries with the lowest rates are mainly in Northern Europe.
- There are nearly 60,000 preterm births per year in the UK (2010)
The risk factors identified in the report are: prior history, underweight, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, smoking, infection, maternal age, genetics, multi-fetal pregnancy.
Well, I meet a number of those, lets be honest. Which is the main reason we’re just not going there again. The thought of going through the trauma of an early birth again. The weeks and weeks of waiting to see when we’ll deliver, hoping for a few more weeks as she’ll be stronger then. The weeks and weeks after the delivery to see when we might get to have our baby home, where she belongs. The worry. The constant worry that even though you’re being told your baby is a fighter, a survivor and has very little wrong with her other than needing to grow you still worry that something awful might happen. The worry why she is not growing as fast as the other babies. The worry that this is all your fault, if only you’d been younger / slimmer / fitter then it might not have happened. The worry that there will be some lifelong implications because of her early birth.
Then add to that having my little fighter Littlebit at home, waiting for Mama, and a new baby in the NICU. All those weeks in hospital where you just want to be at your baby’s side but with another child at home, one who has already been through all this and survived and is this amazing little creature who I want to do my best for. Taking her Mama and Daddy away from her would not be good for her. And ultimately if I became pregnant again I’d be risking the worst, taking Littlebit’s Mama away for good. It got close with her, who’s to say they would be able to save me second time around. I don’t want my special little girl to grow up without a Mummy, just because we decided we’d take the risk and try for a brother or sister for her.
This fantastic report states that prevention is key but has yet to be shown to succeed convincingly in any country: information on the best lifestyle choices and risks of non-medically indicated caesarean births before 37 weeks are what is currently advised.
Well, our prevention is becoming a one-child household now. That’s it. We’re done and I finally feel good about the decision. It is absolutely the right thing for us, for Littlebit.
And anyway, who says this isn’t perfect?
This report provides the first ever national, regional and global estimates of preterm birth. The report shows the extent to which it is on the rise globally (particularly in developing countries) and is now the second leading cause of death globally for children under 5, after pneumonia.
I say well played to March of Dimes, The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, Save the Children and The World Health Organization for commissioning this report. As they state in the report everyone has a role to play. Everyone can help to prevent preterm births and improve the care of premature babies, accelerating progress towards the goal of halving deaths due to pre term birth by 2025. The Every Woman Every Child effort, led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, provides the framework to coordinate action and ensure accountability. It makes interesting reading.
As they say, everyone has a role to play. Here are some ways you can make an impact:
- Join me in the Twitter party this afternoon (Thursday 3rd May) from 3-4pm using the hashtag #borntoosoon
- Follow @tommys_baby and @Blisscharity on Twitter for the latest updates and ideas for how you can help.
- Make a donation or do some fundraising for Tommy’s or Bliss the leading UK charities researching premature births. If you know us personally you can donate to Bliss through Littlebit’s Sunshine Fund. We’ve raised over £1,600 to date.
- Tweet to urge the Health Secretary to make neonatal care in our country an NHS priority. As part of the Bliss SOS (Save Our Specialist nurses) campaign I’m asking you to tweet the Department of Health to stop cuts to baby care and ensure that vulnerable babies are given the best possible start in life. Here, the tweet is even drafted for you, you just need to copy and paste.
@DHgovuk stop cuts to nurses caring for premature and sick babies – make baby care a priority in the mandate to the NHS @Blisscharity
- Make it even more unique and tweet about a premature baby you know, just send to @DHgovuk with a reason why they should stop cuts to nurses caring for premature and sick babies.
- If you blog then blog about this report, get people talking about it, raise some awareness.
If each of my readers do just one of the above, just think how many people we could reach.
Before I leave you today though I have to say that there is one part of having a second child that I long for. I missed out on what I consider to be the fun part of pregnancy. The last trimester. The bit where people tell you you’re blooming. The bit where it’s so obvious that you’re pregnant and not just fat people ask you all about when it’s due, what sort of birth you want. Simple stuff like that. I never had that.
The bit where the birth happens, the first twinges of labour, the beautiful natural birth I wanted. I didn’t get that. That’s what I signed up for, but instead Littlebit was ripped out of “the sun roof”, to coin a phrase that Kylie from Not even a bag of sugar first introduced me to, 10 weeks early. I was only a few weeks into that fab 3rd trimester. I never experienced a contraction. My waters didn’t break. I’d only just started to feel real kicks. That eats me up.
I do long for that, that “normal” pregnancy. BUT, and it’s a big but, not enough to risk my life in having another baby. It’s just not worth it, in my eyes anyway.
So, that’s it. Our decision is made, so now how do we raise an only child? Is it possible to raise a contented only child? Can we be happy with only one child? How do we avoid all those things that “might” happen if a child is an only one?:
- inability to make friends / socialise
- not being able to share
- having a tendency towards aggression and bossiness
- preferring her own company rather than that of others
- having an imaginary friend to make up for the lack of siblings
- being selfish and demanding her own way all the time
- growing up to be a narcissistic and difficult adult
I’ll investigate all this later in the week… but for now, here’s a shot of Littlebit enjoying her own company.