In Germany, one in ten children is born prematurely. This means that the baby is born in the 37th week of pregnancy or before the 260th day of pregnancy. There are three categories into which premature babies are divided. Extremely premature babies are those born up to the 27th week of pregnancy. Very premature babies are born between the 28th and 31st week. Late premature babies are born at 32 to 37 weeks.

The reasons for premature birth are often unclear. It can happen when the fetus does not develop properly. The age of the mother may also play a role in some cases. Thus, people under 18 and over 35 are more likely to have their pregnancies affected by premature births than others. Very underweight or overweight people’s pregnancies can also be at risk. Much clearer causes, however, are diseases such as diabetes or infections, vaginal disorders or uterine tumours. If increased high blood pressure occurs during pregnancy, special care should be taken. A gynaecologist's office should also be contacted as soon as possible in the event of upper abdominal pain, severe headaches, seeing auras or shapes in your field of vision, or severe water retention. These problems could be indications of pre-eclampsia. This is a disease which in severe cases can lead to premature birth. Premature contractions should also be checked by a doctor as soon as possible and mentioned during the usual check-ups so that the possibility of premature birth can be counteracted. In addition to the states of health of mother and child, there are of course also external factors. These include stress and tobacco and alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Babies born before the 28th week of pregnancy do not yet have fully functional organs. They therefore need particularly intensive medical care. They are placed in incubators where they are well protected from germs. Their temperature is regulated and they are fed and ventilated. For preemies born later, a warming cot may be all that is needed. However, it is good to know that in recent years the chances of survival for premature babies and the chances of a healthy development have improved significantly. The medical staff will do everything possible to give the baby the best start in their new life. For many parents, however, it is difficult to see the tiny baby surrounded by medical equipment, doctors and nurses. Some parents are afraid of this sight. Please don't blame yourself if you have such feelings. Talk to people you trust. You should unburden yourself as much as you can. Then you can better be there for the baby.

Your voice and the voice of relatives are already familiar to the baby from during pregnancy. For example, you can make contact and bond with the baby through your voice and by talking to them. You can also read or sing to them. Because the baby notices you even when they are in the incubator. Direct physical contact is particularly beneficial for mother and child. In what's called kangaroo care, the baby lies on your bare torso. They only wear a diaper. For the child, it's nice to hear your heartbeat again and the touch strengthens the bond between you. Your partner can also connect with the baby in this way. Kangaroo care is also possible if the premature baby is still being ventilated. More mature babies can practice drinking directly from the breast. This also strengthens the bond between mother and child. If your baby is still too young, they can still feed from your breast milk and absorb many important nutrients in it. For this, the pumped milk is fed to the baby via a tube.

The most important thing is that you get accustomed to the new situation. This is first and foremost about your welfare and the welfare of the child. But there are also many practical things that need to be sorted out. If you have older children, they may need supervision. In this case, you can get a medical certificate so that the health insurance company will cover the costs for a home aide. If you're working, you have to give notice at your workplace. You have to present a certificate of premature birth there, which you get at the clinic. Having a premature baby also postpones or extends your maternity leave.