Today, November 17, is dedicated to raising awareness of premature birth (before 37 weeks). 1 in 8 children in the US are born premature, leading to time spent in NICU and dangerous complications. In my house 2 of my 3 children were born premature.
For some of us (especially Moms of Multiples) we get it early on. We know that our children are not going to make it to full term and we start weighing our options and setting benchmark dates early on. I think for us, it is easier to carry longer because we are very aware of the survival rates.
When I was pregnant with my singleton, no one ever said a word about benchmark dates other than my "due date" and no one said a word about the need to make it as long as possible. I believe that every pregnant woman should know what dates are important for the chance of their child's survival and how to strive for those dates. Because the reality is nearly 13 million babies are born premature each year and more than 1 million of those don't make it.
If you, or someone you know (I sound like a commerical) are pregnant, do some research, educate your self and then pass it along. The March of Dimes or the Mayo Clinic has loads of information in addition to what I have below.
Week 22 - the first time life outside of the womb is possible, but with the most risk
Week 25 - your baby almost weighs 2 lbs
Week 27 - the branches of the lungs are just starting to develop, chances of survival increase
Week 34 - organs almost fully developed, except for lungs
Week 35 - lungs almost fully developed - but still the chance of the incubator
Week 37 - baby is considered full term (even though your due date is still 3 weeks away and your baby needs to grow more in size)