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World Prematurity Day: Mothers, consultants and clinical directors from Medway Maritime Hospital speak out

A mum has spoken out about the struggles and fears she faced after the birth of her premature baby.

With today marking World Prematurity Day, consultants, clinical directors and parents at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, have been raising awareness of premature birth and the impact it can have on families.

A premature baby at Medway Maritime Hospital
A premature baby at Medway Maritime Hospital

Millie Mortley gave birth to her son, Phoenix, at just 25 weeks in the first lockdown.

She said: "I had to have him emergency C-section because I had a thin cervix.

"I went into hospital for a stitch but my waters actually broke while they were trying to do it, so after having to wait a week I finally had him.

"It was a bit of a scary experience because I'm a young mum and I had him in the first lockdown, but we've got through it and he's doing better than ever now."

If a baby is born before 37 weeks they’re said to be premature and are likely to be small and have health issues.

Medway Maritime Hospital
Medway Maritime Hospital

The earlier a baby is born the more health issues they’re likely to have.

Now a year-and-seven-months, Phoenix is healthy, however at the time of his birth Millie wasn't so confident.

She said: "I was really scared and worried about what would happen to him.

"But as time went on and he got better I felt he had a better chance of getting through things.

"I felt happier and once he came home, I felt complete."

Mothers of premature babies at Medway Maritime Hospital
Mothers of premature babies at Medway Maritime Hospital

With one in every 10 babies born premature in the UK, Millie is just one of many parents who had to find support during the tough time.

She added: "Stay positive. That's all I did and it worked, just stay positive for your child, that's all really."

Medway Maritime Hospital is home to the Oliver Fisher Baby Unit, a neonatal facility that cares for babies who require intensive care.

Ghada Ramadan is the clinical director for the unit, she said: "We're here today to celebrate the world prematurity day.

"This is a very special day for the staff who work in and on the neonatal units, as well as the families of the babies we look after.

"It is a day of celebrating the tiny preterm babies achievements and at the same time remembering those preterm babies who didn't make it.

"We want to raise awareness about prematurity and the work of the neonatal units and the staff who work in different units across the country.

"They do an amazing job every day, to support their babies to support the families and also to give them the best chance in life.

"Some of the risks which we see with preterm birth, particularly if the baby is born between 22 weeks and 26 weeks, is that they will require a prolonged period within a specialist baby unit.

"They will require support for them to be able to grow, to be able to breathe on their own, as well as support so they can reach their full potential.

"The cost of neonatal intensive care is quite high, because it's a very highly technical area.

"The cost of ventilators and all of the equipment we use in the neonatal unit is very expensive so we're raising awareness so we can get support for our hospital."

Parents and consultants at Medway Maritime Hospital are raising awareness of premature births
Parents and consultants at Medway Maritime Hospital are raising awareness of premature births

Helen Gbinigie is a neonatal consultant who looks after preterm and sick term babies at the hospital.

She said: "I look after, or lead my team to look after the whole unit, the family, because there's no baby without a family.

"So it's a baby and a family, that's the way we look after our babies.

"It's very challenging to look after preterm babies, and when parents come here, they're scared, they're aloof, they don't really know what their role is, what they can do here.

"So, what we do is hold their hands and help them find their role as parents on the unit.

"We empower them, support them, show them how to look after their babies, encourage them to do the day to day cares of their babies.

"We will show them how to do their bath, to do their nappies, how to touch them, talk to them, reach to them, and also feed them, and we encourage them to do cuddles as well.

"Just because the babies are here doesn't mean you can't kiss them and give them cuddles."

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