Little Hands Needing Help
On the 17th of November, the world observes World Prematurity Day each year. This year, for the first time, the day will be observed in Namibia. The reason for the day is that approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year, accounting for about one in 10 of all babies born worldwide. Last year, the World Heath Organisation announced that “for the for the first time, the complications of preterm birth outranked all other causes as the world’s number one killer of young children.”
While we cannot control whether babies are born before full term there are some preventative measures that may help and this is why 99FM’s MYD Heart sat down with two passionate Namibian’s, super specialist Professor CH. Pieper who is a Neonatologist and Paediatrician, and Bertha Theron who is a midwife and representative from AbbVie Pty (ltd).
“It’s a big problem and people are unaware, usually when you’re pregnant the last thing you’re thinking about is having a premature baby. You always think you’re going to have a healthy baby with a normal delivery and everything will go well, but sometimes it doesn’t go so well. In some countries it’s up to 25% of babies that either have a low birth weight or are born premature.” Says Prof. Pieper.
According to Prof. Pieper, prevention is possible, “things that can cause premature babies include a lot of standing; a lot of stress (especially social stress and family feuds) and manual labour. Its also important that we raise awareness about what to look out for and about the fact that these things do happen and that you should go see a doctor as soon as you feel like something is wrong. Don’t think that every tummy ache you’ve got an upset stomach; it could actually be labour pains starting.”
Prof Pieper goes on to say that, “Things you can do that help prevent premature babies include things like, getting enough rest; having a good diet and looking after your body. They also include seeing your doctor regularly and visiting your anti-natal clinics or anti-natal classes. If there’s something that worries you then go immediately to your doctor and get help.” Prof. Pieper explains that there are things that medical staff can do to slow down or even stop labour, things that will not affect the baby but rather protect your baby.
Bertha adds, “The best thing you can do during your pregnancy is to stay calm. Speak to someone who has experience, because someone trained or someone who has gone through it will know a lot more.” The worst thing you can do according to Bertha is, “to change you’re lifestyle too drastically. Most importantly, if you experience any pains don’t take it lightly, go and see your doctor and have them check to make sure everything is alright.”
Bertha, who is organising Namibia’s first ever Prematurity Awareness Day notes that, “The government is doing a lot for awareness around prenatal deaths, fetal mortality and even maternal mortality, they’re really focused on this area. But we need to support what is being done. We need donations for the babies currently lying in Central Hospital. There are about 50 babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Central Hospital and 25 babies in Katutura Hospital. They lie there for months. It can be a week, it can be up to six months that they lie in incubators. They need nappies, lotion, wet wipes and soap and it’s a big expense for their mothers to come in to the hospital every day to clean them and bring new supplies for them. We want to support what is being done by collecting donations for the basic items needed for these tiny babies.”
You can support this important awareness campaign by wearing purple on Thursday the 17th of November and also by helping with the donations needed for the premature babies that are currently in our State Hospitals.
Items needed are soap, lotion, wet wipes and nappies. Any contribution is welcome. You can bring your donation to the 99FM offices before the 17th of November 2016 or to the Lifestyle Pharmacy, Prof. Pieper’s offices or you can call 0816629711 and someone will come to you, to collect your donation.