The Mighty Logo

You Can Do Everything Right and Still Have a Premature Baby

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Fact: You can do everything right during your pregnancy and still have a preemie.

Kaleena with her son, Jharid.
Kaleena with her son, Jharid.

I have never smoked a cigarette a day in my life. I have never used drugs of any kind. My life was not filled with stress. I eat a balanced diet, and I am a fairly active person. During my pregnancy, I did not drink any alcohol.

I did not “work too hard” or overly exert myself. I never took more than a few sips of ginger ale. The caffeine and coffee withdrawal was real. I participated in prenatal care. I did not find out I was pregnant “too late” and I followed the doctor’s orders to the letter. I swore by prenatal vitamins.

When I became pregnant, I was excited but willing to wait the 40 weeks to meet him. I did not try to induce my own labor. We took the necessary precautions. I did not learn about my fibroids until the middle of my first trimester. I was told their presence would not harm the baby. I took only Tylenol for the severe pain I often experienced. I never missed a high risk appointment, and each one ended with the same four words, “Mom, everything is fine.”

Everything can seem fine, and you can still have a preterm baby.

When I went into labor at 23 weeks, I retraced the last six months, mindful of every detail.

Where had I gone wrong?

The baby was growing in my stomach, so there was no one else I could blame. We were facing preterm labor, and although the plan was to remain on hospital bedrest for the next few weeks, I knew in my soul I would not make it. By the time I reached the hospital my little Jharid was in position. I was definitely going to have this baby soon. They said Jharid would be a micro preemie.

I did not know what having a “micro preemie” meant. But I was surely going to do my best to leave the hospital with one. The doctor instructed me to lie on my side, keep my legs elevated and relax. I performed those tasks to perfection. I barely moved. Food was taken out of the equation soon after. Still, I made sure to do as I was told. I listened; I prayed.

I did everything right, and I still had a preemie at 24 weeks gestation on Friday, April 27, 2012.

Prematurity can actually happen to anyone. Family and friends came to visit. I saw in their eyes the need to make sense of things, to find the mistake. I guess the lack of a mistake is hard to accept, because it brings us to reality.


There are habits and actions that do their best to prevent preterm birth, and also behaviors that can raise a mother’s risk of having her baby early. However, for the majority of us preemie moms, those factors weren’t our reality. We did not do anything different from every other pregnant mommy.

Our baby’s prematurity was not our fault. It just happened.

Mom, your child being born premature is not your fault.

Don’t get me wrong, every premature birth has a cause, some underlying and often undetectable trigger that expels our babies from our bodies before their due date. And then there are other causes, also beyond a mother’s control, such as stress, an accident, being sick or living in poverty. Even still, most mothers of preemies do the best they can to ensure they deliver a healthy baby. They do what every other mother in the history of childbirth does.

Yes, you can do everything “right” and have a preemie. And yes, you can do everything “wrong” and deliver full term. Some things about life we will never understand. As parents, our job is to enjoy our baby for however long we have them. And because they were born early, we have them for a little longer than originally planned.

Let’s change the perception about premature labor. Use #IDidEverythingRight and share your preemie story on social media. It’s time for a truth campaign.

Prematurity can happen to anyone.

Even those who do everything right.

And yes, even you.

This post originally appeared on Preemie Babies 101, the official blog of Hand to Hold.
Originally published: July 22, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home