Why little Levi is an early birth trend-setter

Renee Sefont with her son Levi who was born 6 weeks premature at the Ipswich Hospital. Photo: Contributed
Renee Sefont with her son Levi who was born 6 weeks premature at the Ipswich Hospital. Photo: Contributed Contributed

BABY Levi Sefont was 2.8kg (6.2lbs) when he decided to make a surprise entrance to the world six weeks early.

Mum Renee was celebrating the upcoming birth of her third child with friends and family at her Chuwar home.

She took a moment to sit down and relax that afternoon when she went into labour.

"I had my whole living room full with ladies for my baby shower. As soon as they left it was quiet, so I sat down and that's when I started to contract," the 34-year-old said.

The mother of three drove herself to Ipswich Hospital under the impression it was Braxton Hicks, or just a false alarm - until little Levi arrived moments later on October 29 last year.

"I was three centimetres bigger than my actual date, so he would have been about nine or 10 pound at full term," she said.

Mrs Sefont and husband Chris were taken by surprise, expecting their son to arrive on the 12/12/12 - a date they thought was special. But it wasn't the first time the couple came face to face with the unexpected.

Their eldest son Lucas, 7, was also born premature weighing the same 2.8kg as his newborn brother.

According to the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, premature birth rates in Australia are on the rise. Late pre-term babies, those born between 34 and 36 weeks, account for 70% of all preterm births, which translates to about 16,000 births annually.

While researchers say the precise causes for this trend are unclear, the increasing proportion of women having babies at a later age may hold a link.

Research showed the proportion of older mothers aged 35 and over in Australia has increased from 10.6% in 1991 to 22.8% in 2009.

Of the 3511 births at the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service (WMHHS) in 2012, 123 babies arrived at 36 weeks.

Figures provided by the WMHHS also found the number of Ipswich women who went into labour at 35 weeks had grown from 60 (1.6%) births in 2010 to 83 (2.4%) in 2012.

Mrs Sefont, who was 34 when she gave birth, said Levi's arrival just shy of full-term remained "a mystery".

"Maybe he knew how hectic things had been and thought now's the time - they say babies can sense stress," she said.

"I was a bit bigger towards the end of my pregnancy so they took me for a scan and I ended up with gestational diabetes - that's when they found out he was 6.6lbs.

"I said to the sonographer I want him out now and two days later he came.

"I think now I should be careful what I wish for."

Topics:  births premature premature babies west moreton hospital and health service

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