How premature birth affects parents

Having a baby early can be a shock to you and your partner and family. You may feel unprepared and anxious about your baby’s arrival and you'll be trying to recover from giving birth.

Your obstetricians, midwives and paediatricians will be giving you information - you can ask them anything. It can feel overwhelming at times. Keep a list of questions that you want to ask when you see them.

Helping your premature baby

You'll be shown how to look after your baby. Spend as much time with your baby as you can. Try and get rest, and eat healthily.

Feeding your baby with your breastmilk is very helpful for your baby. Your breastmilk is the very best type of nourishment for your baby if they're born premature.

Effect on future pregnancies

If you've had premature labour before, there's a greater chance you'll have premature labour in future. However, generally you're more likely to have a baby at term than prematurely.

You'll need to see an obstetrician if you become pregnant in future. They'll discuss with you any extra treatment or monitoring that you may need.

Treatments to prevent premature births

If you've had a late miscarriage (between 12 to 23 weeks) in the past, or if you have had treatments on your cervix, talk to your GP, midwife or obstetrician. They'll decide if you're at risk of premature labour, and whether you would benefit from treatment. Sometimes premature birth is completely unavoidable.

If you're at risk of premature labour, you may be offered some treatments to prevent your cervix (the neck of your womb) from opening too early which can lead to premature births.

These treatments depend on your circumstances but can include:

  • a stitch placed around your cervix to prevent it from opening too early
  • inserting medication containing the natural hormone progesterone into your vagina

Page last reviewed: 18 September 2018
Next review due: 18 September 2021