Baby's First Year · Pregnancy

Born too soon: World Prematurity Day

Father holding his premature baby doing skin to skin in hospital

Every year on November 17th, we celebrate World Prematurity Day to raise awareness about preterm birth and the concerns preterm babies and their family’s experience. Babies born too early may face serious health risks or long term health problems.

In 2016, the preterm birth rate was 8.7% in Toronto, higher than the rest of Ontario.

What Is Prematurity?

When a baby is born less than 37 weeks of pregnancy it is known as a preterm birth or premature birth. Premature babies are oftentimes referred to as “preemies.”

Why does preterm birth happen?

Preterm birth can happen for a number of reasons, but most preterm births will happen without any known reason.

We often hear families say that they didn’t know they were in labour until it was too late. Knowing the signs and symptoms of preterm labour and when to get medical assistance is important.

Evidence shows that families and health care professionals working together leads to better health and developmental outcomes.

Reducing the chances of preterm birth

Although it may not be possible to prevent all preterm births, the following tips may help:

  • Start prenatal care as early as possible and see your health care provider regularly
  • Take a prenatal class early in your pregnancy
  • Try to cut down or quit smoking
  • Take time to rest during the day
  • Eat a balanced and nutritious diet following Canada’s Food Guide
  • Pay attention to your body
  • Learn ways to cope with stress
  • Talk to someone you trust

If you think you are experiencing preterm labour, go to the hospital right away.

If you have questions about preterm labour and birth, be sure to speak with your health care provider, connect with us online or call (416) 338-7600 to speak to a Public Health Nurse.

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