Pregnancy is full of new sensations, fears, dreams, and questions. One of the most common is, will my baby come early? Until recently it was an unanswerable question for many women. But now, the PreTRM test can determine your risk for premature birth.
What is prematurity?
Premature birth can happen to anyone, even if you’re low risk.
Human pregnancy lasts 40-42 weeks—full term babies are those who are born at 37 weeks gestation, or later. Your baby is premature if it is born before 37 weeks.
The US has a high prematurity rate: 1 in 10 babies are born before 37 weeks, including those born to healthy, low-risk mothers.
According to Dr. Lizellen La Follette, OB-GYN, the US had no effective tools—until now—for predicting the 40% of premature births that occur with first time mothers.
What’s more, 50% of those first-time moms had no risk factors for prematurity.
A premature birth affects the whole family
Baby is one member of the family heavily influenced by being born early, but everyone in the family is also affected.
According to Dr. Barbi Phelps-Sandall, parents, grandparents, other children, and the family as a whole are changed by the surprise and fear of a premature birth.
Suddenly, all the plans change. Days and nights, holidays, birthdays, and special events could all be devoted to Mom and/or Dad helping the new, struggling baby grow enough to come home.
A stay in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) can be scary and expensive. Depending on baby’s age when he’s born, that stay could be days or months. Nearly every one of those days will mean Mom or Dad will be with baby, but older siblings who aren’t allowed in NICU will be at home or with caregivers.
How does the test help?
Every parent-to-be and their healthcare professional wants to know whether a baby will be born premature.
For the surprising number of low-risk women in the US who go to labor and delivery much earlier than expected—or for first-time parents—a premature birth rattles every aspect of their birth plans and lives.
Until now there was no way to predict or prepare for a premature delivery and the delicate baby’s issues, how it will affect the family, or how the added stress of being in the NICU affects your own healing after the birth.
The PreTRM test is the first of its kind to offer a way for physicians, midwives, and expecting parents to prepare for the birth of a preemie.
PreTRM test is done at 19-20 weeks gestation and looks at 2 proteins for their input into the pregnancy stew. These results are combined with cervical length measurements, extra ultrasounds, and greater attention to what you are feeling.
According to Dr. Howie Mandel, the PreTRM test is predictive in the same way that a pap smear can anticipate your likelihood of getting cervical cancer: It may not happen but you have X chance of it, so let’s talk about how to prepare.
Using the test results, healthcare providers are able to determine a course of action and plan with their pregnant moms. Moms learn their body’s signs of impending labor. A family has time to talk about managing their life and plans.
The test increases communication between provider and mother, which helps lower stress when they’re suddenly in the hospital birthing a baby who may need a lot of extra help.
A woman with a test result indicating her baby is likely to come early who reports having low back pain will get a different reaction from her physician than a woman who isn’t expected to have her baby early.
Knowing your likelihood of giving birth prematurely gives you time to
- Adjust emotionally
- Plan with your healthcare provider
- Inform your family and other important players in your birth plan
- Include your “in case of premature birth “ preferences in your birth plan
- Make arrangements for extended childcare, pet care, or other needs
- Be ready with your hospital bag checklist and hospital bags for anyone going with you
- Plan how you’ll manage days or nights in the NICU (see our checklist for taking breastmilk to the NICU)
If you want to get the PreTRM test, you may have to advocate for yourself.
The test must be ordered from a OB-GYN, but it’s so new that many doctors have either never heard of it or don’t feel it’s credible yet.
If you want more information, you can call PreTrm or contact via their website. They will tell you about the test and will call your doctor to educate them about it’s credibility and results.
Although many woman may want to know their prematurity status and have the PreTRM test, low-risk women with no risk factors for premature birth are the ones who benefit most from it.
 Dr Lizellen La Follette, OB-GYN, video #1 0:27 minutes, https://www.pretrm.com
 Dr. Barbi Phelps-Sandall, OB-GYN, video #3 0:14 minutes, https://www.pretrm.com
 Dr Lizellen La Follette, OB-GYN, video #1 1:43 minutes, https://www.pretrm.com
 Dr. Howie Mandel, OB-GYN, FACOG, video #2 1:40 minutes, https://www.pretrm.com
 Dr. Barbi Phelps-Sandall, OB-GYN, video #3 1:48 minutes, https://www.pretrm.com
To learn more about pregnancy health tips, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.
This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.
Published: December 26, 2017 | By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula | Reviewed by: The Best Ever Baby Expert Team | Last reviewed: December, 2017