Why did I need injections?

Q: My baby was born prematurely at 30 weeks. I had some injections before her birth to help her lungs after she was born. What were they for?


Midwife Nikki replies:

These injections are called dexamethasone, a form of steroids given antenatally, 12 hours apart, if you’re in premature labour and between 24 and 36 weeks pregnant.
Premature labour may have occurred if your waters had broken early or you began having contractions. The doctors need to attempt to delay your labour to allow these injections to be given, as the steroids work to help mature your baby’s lungs after birth, giving her a better chance of survival.
The lungs of a full-term infant produce a chemical known as surfactant that helps keep them open and stops them sticking together, but premature babies don’t have enough surfactant in their lungs, making breathing hard.
Drugs help to accelerate surfactant production and make breathing easier for her.


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