16/11/2012 12:12 GMT | Updated 16/01/2013 05:12 GMT

Raising Awareness for World Prematurity Day


On 17 November, the world will be discussing the serious issue of premature birth. Sadly 15 million babies are born before 37 weeks resulting in 1.1 million babies dying every year around the globe. The staggering fact is that reports show around 75% of these deaths could be prevented with better health education and medical care. 60,000 babies are born too soon every year in the UK which is 8% of all births. Around 40% are unexplained and spontaneous. Vital research is still needed to understand the reasons why premature birth happens and to develop treatments and different prevention methods.

The vast majority of expectant mums don't realise how common premature birth actually is in the UK, that it could happen to them, or the fact that in some cases, it can be prevented so awareness is the first step to educating mums on what can be done to reduce their risk. Some infections are thought to be the cause of a third of premature births so it's important for expectant mums to look out for certain symptoms such as:

  • High temperature, vomiting, severe nausea, pain whilst passing urine, tummy pain or pain in the sides or lower back, fast heart rate.
  • If you are pregnant and have any of the above conditions, contact your medical team as you may need treatment such as antibiotics.

Other health factors which help to reduce the risks include keeping active during pregnancy, maintaining a healthy weight, stopping smoking, not drinking alcohol, not taking recreational drugs, washing hands after touching animals, preventing food poisoning, and avoiding cat faeces.

As long as it is safe, in some cases, doctors can try to stop labour progressing. It can be attempted with a range of medications. Recognised treatments include Atosiban, Nifedipine, GTN patches and Ritodrine. The first two are the most widely used in current practice. Reasons for not stopping labour include vaginal bleeding, pre-eclampsia, and some infections.

MAMA (Mums And Midwives Awareness) Academy is a non-profit organisation helping to reduce baby loss by educating mums-to-be on when they should call their midwife for advice and by keeping midwives up to date with current pregnancy news and research. The mum's side of our website has been written by our team of healthcare professionals and the midwives side has been accredited by The Royal College of Midwives. We equip mums with information about how to keep healthy, the complications they can face and what can be done, as well as provide midwives with current guidelines to aid consistency of care across the UK. We also keep midwives informed of various study days taking place throughout the year.

Our Call The Midwife poster helps mums identify certain symptoms of complications and encourages them to call their maternity team for advice. Help us display them across the UK by taking them to your local GP surgery or antenatal clinic. Please visit our Call The Midwife page for more information. We also issue e-newsletters when important guidelines are released so sign up today via our home page! You can also join our community of mums and midwives on facebook or send us a tweet!

Thank you for supporting mums and their midwives throughout the wonder of pregnancy!

Heidi Eldridge

Chairman | | @mamaacademy