Prematurity Awareness Month: Promoting a Healthy Start - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on November 07, 2013

Prematurity Awareness Month: Promoting a Healthy Start

Springfield, Pa. – Crozer-Keystone Health System is dedicated to helping new moms and babies get off to the healthiest start possible. This November, in recognition of Prematurity Awareness Month, Crozer-Keystone Health System celebrates its commitment to providing outstanding care for Delaware County families through its maternity centers at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland and Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Drexel Hill.

Kevin and Hailey O'Donnell

Kevin and Hailey O'Donnell

To promote the best beginnings for mom and baby, Crozer-Keystone provides board-certified perinatologists who are trained in the care of high-risk women during pregnancy, as well as dedicated neonatologists who are trained to care for babies who are born prematurely or with special needs.

Also, Crozer-Keystone continues to support the mission of the March of Dimes, which is dedicated to supporting full-term, healthy pregnancies, and assisting families whose children are born prematurely. This year, the March of Dimes will acknowledge the staff at DCMH and Crozer-Chester with a plaque of appreciation, as it has every year since the March of Dimes began its annual Day of Gratitude during Prematurity Awareness Month in November of 2005.

What Expectant Parents Should Know

According to the March of Dimes, nearly half a million babies are born prematurely (or before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy) each year in the United States. Babies who survive often have lifelong health problems, including cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, chronic lung disease, blindness and hearing loss.  Prematurity and its complications cause about 25 percent of neonatal deaths, the March of Dimes reports.

Chase Rose

Chase Rose

On a positive note, there has been a very modest but definite decrease in premature births for the sixth year in a row, says Dolores Smith, state director for program services and government affairs of March of Dimes in Pennsylvania. To support the healthiest outcomes, Smith emphasizes that parents who are planning or expecting a baby should:

  • Have a physical before they become pregnant and work with their healthcare provider to manage any chronic conditions.
  • Be sure to receive regular prenatal care to ensure the best health for mom and baby.
  • Seek additional support from a maternal-fetal medicine physician if they have already had a preterm baby (this puts them at increased risk for another preterm birth; a maternal-fetal medicine specialist can help parents plan and prepare for future pregnancies).

Even though some premature births are inevitable, Smith notes that every extra day and week of gestation helps to support the healthiest birth.

Helpful Resources

Parents of premature babies often have many questions about their children’s development – from the first days at home, to the first days at school and beyond. For support, the March of Dimes invites them to visit these two resources:

  • Shareyourstory.org. This website provides a place for parents to share their family experiences and find encouragement and support from other families who may be having similar experiences.
  • Askus@marchofdimes.com. This free service supported by March of Dimes provides health information specialists who can answer questions parents may have at any time along the course of their child’s development, from infancy to adulthood. This is intended solely as a resource, and contact information will not be used to solicit donations or for any other reason.

It’s important for parents to know that there are resources out there to help them, Smith says. Annual Prematurity Awareness Month provides a welcome opportunity, she says, to get this message out and to thank nurses, physicians and other care providers for their support.

Special Deliveries

While Crozer-Keystone is dedicated to supporting full-term pregnancies whenever possible, sometimes those tiny bundles of joy arrive ahead of schedule. In these instances, CKHS doctors, nurses and staff are fully prepared to provide any special care that may be needed for both mom and baby. Here are the stories of two area families, who shared their experiences during those first days of parenthood.

Double the Excitement

“Because we were having twins, we knew there was a chance the babies would come early, but we didn’t think it would be as early as it was,” says first-time mom Jennifer O’Donnell of twins Kevin and Hailey born in May 2013 at Delaware County Memorial Hospital. Arriving well ahead of schedule, at about 28 weeks gestation, Kevin weighed in at 2 lbs., 5 oz., and his sister was slightly smaller at 2 lbs., 3 oz. 

Jennifer recalls that the first couple of weeks were the most difficult because she and her husband, Mike, could only hold their babies for a short time each day (in accordance with the babies’ initial care protocol). As Kevin and Hailey got stronger, Jennifer and Mike were able to enjoy even more hands-on time with them during their daily hospital visits. By the end of July, both babies were ready to go home with mom and dad to Havertown.

As of early September, Kevin was up to 8 lbs., 2 oz., and Hailey was close behind at 6 lbs., 12 oz. “They’re doing really well,” says Jennifer, who received her obstetrical care from DCMH OB/GYN Elizabeth Louka, M.D., of Delaware Valley Women’s Care.  

Even though it was hard not being able to bring the babies home right away, Jennifer recalls fondly the support provided by the nurses and staff at DCMH. “We had an amazing experience in the NICU,” Jennifer says. “They’re really good about talking to you and letting you know that things get better. By the end, it was almost hard to say goodbye.”

Growing Strong

“I never went into panic mode,” veteran mom LaByron Rose of Drexel Hill says of her experience delivering baby Chase, who came into the world at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in June 2013, weighing just 1 lb., 15 oz.

LaByron, whose 12-year-old daughter Taniya was also born prematurely, knew that her pregnancy history put her at increased risk of having another premature delivery; and so in addition to seeing her Crozer OB/GYNs Andreea Cadar, M.D. and Stacey L. Rubin, M.D., at Suburban OB/GYN, she regularly visited maternal fetal medicine specialists Hugh Eherenberg, M.D. and Carolyn Hadley, M.D. throughout her pregnancy to monitor the baby’s progress and make sure everything was okay. When her doctors recommended she get a stitch in her cervix at 23 weeks gestation to help prevent her cervix from opening, LaByron got it right away; and she was able to sustain the pregnancy for about another four weeks until Chase was born. She spent the last two of those weeks in the maternity center at Crozer, where she was closely monitored after her water broke at 25 weeks gestation.

As of early September, when LaByron and dad Anthony Gilliam were able to take Chase home, he weighed in at over 5 lbs., and was growing like a champ.

LaByron says she and fiancé Anthony felt reassured by the doctors, nurses and staff who were tending to Chase at Crozer. “The care he was getting was excellent,” she says. “It was like a second home.”

For a referral to a CKHS OB/GYN or more information about maternity services at Crozer-Keystone Health System, call 1-855-CK-BABIES (1-855-252-2243), or visit http://4Ubaby.crozerkeystone.org.

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