Understanding Preterm Birth

It takes 40 weeks to fully grow a human – nine months of incubating life while going to doctor’s appointments, taking prenatal vitamins, watching your diet, exercising, and waiting while your body prepares for a miracle. Cathrine Versfeld asks what if that miracle happens before your body, and you, are ready?

The first appointment with your obstetrician is exhilarating and nerve-racking. Very often, the doctor will take a scan to confirm pregnancy, and you’ll get a chance to see your tiny baby for the first time in the womb. The first question on the lips of all newly pregnant parents is about the due date. At this stage the doctor will ask you the date of your last period and calculate the estimated due date by adding 40 weeks. Of all the information you receive on that epic day, the due date is something all parents cling to. It is circled in diaries and leave and family events are planned around that date. But what if your baby is one of the 10 babies in South Africa that is born preterm?

Defining Prematurity
A baby that is born anywhere before the 37th week of pregnancy or three weeks before your due date is considered premature. From 38 weeks, your baby can decide to come at any time right up to 42 weeks, and this is perfectly normal.


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