The birth of a baby is one of the most joyful times in a family’s life but for some, life hangs in the balance if the baby is born prematurely.
It happens more often than you think.
One in 10 babies in Quebec are born premature.
At the Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit, 900 babies are treated every year.
Half of them are premature.
A preemie baby is born anytime from 23 to 37 weeks during the pregnancy term.
“The biggest problem of the premature babies is the respiratory problem and we have to support them certainly at the beginning of their life,” said Dr. Thérèse Perreault, Head of Neonatology at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Perreault says the biggest challenge is not being able to go home after the birth like other parents.
Coverage of premature births on Globalnews.ca:
Kira Zoellner lived through the experience a year ago.
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Her son Alex was born at 27 weeks and had to stay in the NICU for almost three months.
All that time, she was by his side.
She says a non-profit called Préma-Québec helped her through the stressful time.
“I was lost I was confused, I was helpless, I was depressed,” Zoellner said.
“I had no idea how I was going to make it through.”
She says the organization offered a shoulder to lean on.
“For me personally, it was more a psychological support. So basically someone near to listen to, to comfort us, to help us through the hoops of what’s going to come next.”
Préma-Québec offers multiple resources and information about a premature baby’s journey.
They also have a helpline for parents to phone in and ask questions, they even assist with financial help among other things.
So on World Prematurity Day, Zollner wants other parents going through the same thing to know that they’re not alone.
“Psychologically, it’s a marathon and you need help,” said Zollner.
“Take it just one step at a time”.