When I walked into my doctor’s office on May 9th, 2010, I expected to go through a routine stress test. At 35 weeks into my pregnancy, I was used to seeing my OBGYN and a perinatologist regularly, so I had plans to go to Babies ‘R Us to pick out crib bedding after my appointment.
I never made it.
Tests showed that my baby’s heart rate was dropping with each of my contractions–contractions I didn’t even know I was having. Thankfully, I made it to the hospital in time, and gave birth to my baby boy the next morning.
Have you heard this birth story before? It may be your story, too. Or your cousin’s, your sister’s, or your best friend’s. I’m not the first mom to go into labor early, and I’m sure I won’t be the last.
More than 15 million moms give birth prematurely each year, and rates in the U.S. are rising. This year, the March of Dimes gave the United States a “C” on their Premature Birth Report Card, and across the states, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana all got F’s.
Hispanic moms are 1.1% more likely to have preterm babies, while Black moms are 1.5% more likely to give birth early. A Contemporary Ob/Gyn article says that stress can lead to an early labor, “especially if it occurs early in pregnancy and is a type over which the woman has little control, such as the stress associated with catastrophic events, domestic violence, and racism.” Researchers still don’t know exactly what causes prematurity, but getting early medical care, eating right, and quitting smoking can all help moms have healthier pregnancies.
The March of Dimes has made it their mission to lower the preterm birth rate by 2020. By giving women access to information and support during their pregnancies, they hope to help more babies survive and thrive. The March of Dimes is funding lifesaving research and speaking out for legislation that improves care for moms and babies. Through education and awareness campaigns, hospital quality improvement and community intervention programs, the March of Dimes hopes to make an immediate, substantial and measurable impact on preterm birth.
My son and I are helping to spread prematurity awareness. You may have seen our picture in a brochure at your doctor’s office, your sorority’s newsletter, on Famous Footwear coupons, or on the side of a city bus.
We hope that you’ll help us share the March of Dimes mission to end prematurity. November 17th is World Prematurity Day. You can help the March of Dimes by joining their Thunderclap campaign. A simple message on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr helps raise awareness.
Click here to share.
Help support the March of Dimes and the families around the world affected by prematurity. Volunteer, advocate, participate and support at marchofdimes.org.