When Things Don’t Go As Planned Series – Premature Labour And Birth

Welcome and thank you for listening!

Jessica is a new Mama from Makhanda (previously Grahamstown) in the Eastern Cape. Jessica grew up on a farm in KwaZulu-Natal and now calls the Eastern Cape home.

She is happily married to Julian Barker and they welcomed their baby boy Jonah into the world on 13th April 2022. Jess and Julian also have two beloved cats, Chilli and Pepper, who are slowly adjusting to life with a newborn, as are their parents!

Jess is a Lecturer in Environmental Science at Rhodes University. She is passionate about the environment and social justice issues, and can’t wait to share the beauty of nature and the rich diversity of South Africa’s people with her son Jonah.

Jess and Julian love exploring the back roads of the Eastern Cape, picnics, hiking, and drinking wine with friends and loved ones. Jonah is already adding immeasurable joy to their lives and is a gorgeous ray of sunshine they can’t imagine life without!

In today’s podcast she will be sharing the experience she had when Jonah arrived earlier than they had planned.


It’s possible for Baby to survive outside the womb from about 25 weeks of pregnancy, although she can have huge and long-lasting problems and challenges. It’s best for Baby to stay in the womb for as long as possible and to be born at term unless there is no other option. A normal pregnancy lasts 37–42 weeks and even having Baby just two or three weeks earlier can lead to challenges in the early months, including respiratory problems, feeding problems, and developmental delays. Generally, the closer Baby is born to her due date the fewer problems she will have.

Fortunately, thanks to the modern care techniques available, care for preemies is excellent and the neonatal staff will do everything in its power to keep your little one safe. Premature baby boys tend to have more challenges than little girls, no matter what age they’re born at. All preemies have a risk of developing hyaline disease; the more premature they are the greater the risk. If birth or labour is imminent or your pregnancy needs to be terminated for health reasons you’ll be given medication for two days which will help Baby to produce surfactant in her lungs to mature them and ensure that they don’t collapse after birth. Baby’s weight is an important factor after birth; you won’t be allowed to nurse her outside the incubator if she’s under 1kg and she probably won’t be discharged until she’s at least 2kg.