Author: Edward

Premature Babies Are a Movement

Premature Babies Are a Movement

‘Till’ focuses on the pain — and resiliency — of mothers who give birth to premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

A mother gives birth to a premature baby in the NICU at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

A mother who gave birth this year to a premature baby has a new appreciation for what she did — and how grateful she is for it.

On a recent morning in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a young mother sits in a chair in the corner. Her arms are crossed, her face is calm, but she is clearly shaken by what she just had to do.

As her newborn daughter is being delivered by an anesthesiologist, she watches the monitors and tries not to be overwhelmed by the experience. She had expected more pain than she felt, and knew she would always be grateful she did it.

But the mother is also in awe of something: She is watching her son grow from a tiny, premature baby who weighed barely a pound to now standing over the size of her forearm. If she didn’t get through what went wrong, who knows if he would have survived.

“It’s amazing,” says the mother, who like eight out of 10 premature infants is a teen mom. “I am so grateful every day that I delivered him before he had to,” she says.

There are at least 150,000 births every year that occur prematurely, often while parents are trying to do the most they can to keep their kids alive. Most often they have to deliver their babies — either at home or in a hospital — against their will.

The mothers of these premature babies are the face of a movement that has spread since 2001 when the National Institutes of Health began funding research into the needs of premature babies in the NICU at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Today, more than 10,000 babies are being treated in the NICU annually at the hospital.

The research focuses on how babies born prematurely, or preterm, respond to the pain, discomfort and distress of the intensive care environment.

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