World Prematurity Day - Olivia and Poppys story

17 November 2021

Meet first time mum, Olivia, and her daughter Poppy who was born in mid-June at just 28 weeks, weighing 1,045 grams and 73mm in length.

November 17 is World Prematurity Day which aims to increase awareness of preterm births. Worldwide one in ten babies are born preterm (World Health Organisation, 2018), which is why we wanted to share Olivia and Poppy’s experience with you.

According to Olivia, birthing her daughter at 28 weeks wasn’t the pregnancy or childbirth experience she had expected.

“It was a surprise, I was thrown into the deep-end,” said Olivia. “I didn’t even get to attend antenatal classes.”

Olivia and baby Poppy

To support Poppy’s breathing and lung capacity she was placed on Bubble CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) for the first 18 hours of her life.

“It was really hard to see her on the Bubble CPAP machine at first. It was unsettling and overwhelming as a new mum, it wasn’t what I envisioned. However, I was also overcome with how beautiful and strong she is.”

After being placed on Bubble CPAP, Poppy was transferred to Optiflow for 13 weeks to assist her oxygen flow. According to Olivia it’s been an emotional rollercoaster having a very preterm baby (28 to 32 weeks).

“I didn’t expect to be here in hospital every day following the birth of my first child. And because we didn’t expect Poppy to arrive until September her dad, Ryan, was only able to have four days off work when she was born.”

Despite not being able to carry Poppy to full-term and missing out on having a baby shower, or even photographs of being pregnant, Olivia continues to look at the positives.

“I have learnt a lot of things I wouldn’t have if I was at home with Poppy. For instance, because her vitals are monitored, I know what lowers and raises her heartrate.”

“One of my favourite moments with Poppy so far was experiencing her first bath. She was so relaxed, and all cuddled up – I think she thought she was back in the womb.”

Poppy was born at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and was transferred to Lyell McEwin Hospital’s Special Care Nursery eight weeks after her birth.

Poppy spent the first 13 weeks of her life in hospital before heading home with her parents. Prior to her discharge Olivia was offered a room to stay overnight so she could spend a night caring for Poppy with the support of nurses and midwives before taking her home.

According to Olivia the support, care and communication from nurses and midwives at Lyell McEwin Hospital’s Special Care Nursery has been excellent.

“Everyone is really friendly and knows who we are. I feel involved and informed in decisions made regarding Poppy’s healthcare.”

Olivia’s advice for other parents who have a preterm baby is to seek emotional support from other people who have had similar experiences with their child/children so they can relate to what you are experiencing and provide support.

“It’s also important that you stay positive. Remember another day is here, which means you are another day closer to going home.”

And of course, Olivia recommends all expectant parents to book in for their antenatal classes early.

“Be prepared because you never know what might happen and you want to be as equipped as possible if you do have a baby preterm.”

Lyell McEwin’s Special Care Nursery

The Lyell McEwin Hospital is Adelaide’s second largest birthing unit, with almost 3,800 babies born at the hospital in the 2020-21 financial year. With one in ten babies born preterm (World Health Organisation, 2018), our Special Care Nursery unit is well equipped to provide short and long-term care for babies from 31 weeks gestation.

The unit has recently enhanced its facilities to create a more welcoming space for parents with the addition of a lounge which includes beverage facilities, outdoor covered seating in a private courtyard, and recliner chairs next to cots for parents to relax in during their visits.

The Special Care Nursery is staffed by an exceptional team of nurses, midwives, neonatologists, paediatric medical specialists, ward assistants, allied health and our comfort care volunteers.

If you would like to join antennal classes at the Lyell McEwin or Modbury Hospital, please call 0477 341 396 or 8182 9431 for further information or to book a class.

For more information on World Prematurity Day can be found on the Miracle Babies Foundation website.