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Imagine you live in regional Australia, you are 28 weeks pregnant and your doctor tells you that your cervix has shortened. He then says you are likely to go into preterm labour and you need to be immediately be flown to a major hospital to go on bedrest. Imagine that, and that have another child at home.

This is what happened to Nicola when she went in for her 28 week scan for her second child. A shortened cervix happens when a cervix begins to open early, and can result in a premature birth.

Bed rest

Nicola and her family live in Charleville in regional Queensland, so the only option for her was to be flown to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) and put on strict bed rest. Upon arrival, doctors were able to stablise her shortened cervix and she was discharged to the Ronald McDonald House (still on bed rest) four days later. Still away from her family.

The following weekend she was readmitted to the RBWH with another threatened preterm labour and her daughter Else was born a few days later, at 30 weeks +1 day (30+1).

Nicola and her son Locky with Elsie.

Weighing only 1526g, Elsie was rushed into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and put on breathing support, a cannula inserted in her hand and a feeding tube inserted in her mouth. She also underwent light therapy for jaundice. Elsie proved to be a great breastfeeder and picked it up quickly.

Elsie spent 3 days in NICU before being moved to the Special Care Nursery (SCN) for a further 42 days. 

After 45 days Elsie (and longer for Nicola) were flown home, much to the delight of their family. 

Elsie is adorable and a delight to everyone she meets. Nicola has trained to become a lactation consultant and is a passionate breastfeeding advocate. She also co-ordinates the annual Walk For Prems fundraising walk in Charleville for the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation, raising around $4,500 over the past two years.

“The premmie journey can be a very frightening and lonely journey, but you’re not alone – one in 10 babies are born prematurely. It’s a whole new world that you never wish to discover, but when you come out the other end it’s the most rewarding challenge you’ve ever endured. Take the help that’s offered and never give up on your little miracle. They are the toughest of them all.” Nicola