Tommy's PregnancyHub

Giving birth to your premature baby FAQs

Frequently asked questions about premature labour and birth

Is there anything I can do to make the birth less painful?

If the team needs to monitor your baby during the birth you may need to remain still, and you may be feeling unwell, so it may be hard to follow the advice usually given to women in labour, which includes tips such as having a bath or shower, or moving around.

Surprising though it may sound, your state of mind does have some effect on the level of pain you feel, and if you can find ways to reduce your anxiety you may be able to boost the effects of the pain relief you are using.

The key is relaxation. Feeling mentally relaxed helps your muscles relax too, which may help your body open up. There are many tehniques to help women relax during childbirth. Having a supportive birthing partner or midwife who will be with you every step of the way can make a big difference.

What if I feel pain during a caesarean?

During a caesarean you will feel some odd tugging sensations in your tummy, but it is extremely rare to feel any pain. If you have had a spinal and think that your anaesthetic might be wearing off, tell the anaesthetist immediately and they can increase the level of anaesthetic.

Why can't I cuddle my premature baby?

Often when a baby is born prematurely, they will need urgent medical attention. If it is possible, the team will always let you hold your newborn, but if their health is at risk they may need to act very swiftly to run checks and give them the interventions they need. This might mean rushing them off to be resuscitated and into the baby unit.

This may be very difficult for you, but your baby's health has to be the top priority for the healthcare team. As soon as they are stable, you will be able to hold them.

Read more about your premature baby's time in hospital here

My newborn is in the baby unit. Will he be OK?

There isn't an easy answer to this question. Every baby's situation is different. What we know is that your baby's chance of survival is better than it has been at any other time in history, and that the baby unit is the best possible place for him to receive the care he needs. The healthcare team will do their best to keep your little one healthy.

Read more about the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) here

Why are all these machines and tubes connected to my baby?

Seeing your baby connected up to monitors and machines can be a big shock. Most of them are designed to help him meet three basic needs: to receive nutrition and fluid, to breathe and to stay warm enough.

Find out what the different pieces of equipment in the baby unit are called, and what they are for.

Why do I keep crying all the time?

Having a baby takes its toll physically and emotionally, even when the birth is relatively straightforward and at term.

If your baby is born prematurely then you also have a whole range of other stresses to contend with - not least, worrying about the health of your baby. You may also be grieving for the birth that you'd envisaged and the healthy baby you'd expected to have.

It is natural to feel distressed in your situation, so don't try to bottle it up - just recognise what you are feeling. With time, the feelings will become easier to bear. You can then start to focus on what you can do to become more involved in your baby's care.

Read more about your mental health with a premature baby here.

  1. Pain EJ, Lang AJ et al (2006) Anxiety sensitivity as a predictor of labor pain, European Journal of Pain, Vol 10, No 3, p263-70
Review dates

Last reviewed: 1 July 2017
Next review: 1 July 2020