World Prematurity Day: Mom hopes to bring awareness about premature birth

After delivering twins at just 32 weeks, mom Meghan Konopacki is hoping to raise awareness about premature birth and share her life-changing experience at Scarborough Health Network (SHN).

“Full term for my twins was 37 weeks, so this was definitely earlier than I expected, but everyone is doing well” she explained. “Because I had twins, we were advised it increased the risk for prematurity.”

Meghan, who gave birth this November at SHN’s nationally recognized Family Birthing Centre at General Hospital, said when her water broke several weeks early, she knew it was time to get help.

A resident of Durham Region, Meghan was transferred to SHN’s General Hospital where an emergency Caesarean section delivery was performed, and her premature baby could then be cared for in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

In fact, SHN is home to NICUs at both our Centenary and General Hospitals, where we have leading centres of excellence for women and children’s services. Our NICUs are specially staffed, equipped and designated to look after newborns as premature as 30 weeks. Care is provided by an inter-professional team including physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, social workers, respiratory therapists and lactation consultants.

Most recently, our NICU at General was renovated to provide increased occupancy from 14 to 17 babies, and the Operating Room in our Family Birthing Centre has also been updated with expanded space that allows our team to provide even more timely response if a pregnant mom is experiencing an abnormal fetal heart rate trace.

“General’s NICU medical team have been amazing. They have helped care for my twin babies and educated me on everything. There is no way I could care for them at home the way they care for them here,” said Meghan.

Most premature babies develop naturally, but as with any premature delivery, there are risks of developmental problems. Routine screening and assessments are conducted to evaluate and assess for any concerns.

“We hold them all day long for development,” she explained. “They’ll be here, in the hospital, for at least three to four weeks.”

As many as 15 million babies are preterm each year, accounting for about one in 10 of all babies worldwide.

Although Meghan’s babies may be spending their first couple months at the hospital instead of home, she knows these steps are designed to ensure the best outcome.

At SHN, prior to COVID, we cared for more than 800 newborns every year in our NICUs — with many of these families staying connected with us over the years for other kids care services, or to share stories about their growing children who were once such small babies at our hospital, or to recognize our team for the dedicated and compassionate care they provided.

“I am just so grateful,” said Meghan. “Thank you to everyone at Scarborough Health Network.”

Baby Leah with her father, Chris
Baby Liam with his mother, Meghan