Expanded Care for Women and Families after Preterm Birth


Address correspondence to Ira Kantrowitz-Gordon, CNM, MN, University of Washington School of Nursing, Box 357262, Seattle, WA 98195. E-mail: irakg@uw.edu


Prematurity is a complication of pregnancy for 1 in 8 families in the United States. The focus of care after preterm birth shifts to the fragile newborn, while the needs of the woman and her family may be overlooked. There are many challenges for parents, including impaired parent-newborn attachment, difficulties with breastfeeding, postpartum mental health, and family disruption. Premature birth may even risk the developing relationship between parents and their child. Comprehensive care is recommended for parents who have experienced a preterm birth, including support of effective lactation, promotion of skin-to-skin care, reflection on the birth experience, support and evaluation of postpartum mental health, and provision of family-centered care. Preconception care after preterm birth needs to include guidance about the recurrence risk for preterm birth as well as recommendations for risk reduction.