‘Littlest baby’ Mihlali happy and thriving at home
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A premature baby is defined as an infant who is born before the 38 weeks of completed gestational age. Prematurity accounts for as many as one in seven babies born in South Africa, 80% of whom may be born between 32 and 37 completed weeks. These infants may also have a low birth weight, which in medical terms is defined as less than 2 500 grams.
Micro-prematurity or extremely low birth weight is defined as less than 1 000g.
Mihlali Precious Maseko was born on June 30, 2021 at a gestation of 27 weeks and weighing just 680g. She was delivered by a specialist multidisciplinary team at Rondebosch Medical Centre Maternity and NICU, and is the smallest baby to be born in the unit since 2017. The team continued to manage her care throughout her stay in hospital, with the expert neonatal ICU nursing team assisting to get Mihlali growing and discharged home with her mom.
“From the start, Mihlali was born with a force of nature - and made it known she had joined the world. She was smaller than the size of our hands and such a fighter from the beginning,” recalls paediatrician Dr Anisa Vahed.
“Our journey with Mihlali was made even more difficult with her mom being unwell in the ICU. She was only able to see Mihlali for five minutes before she had to be moved to neonatal ICU.
“Managing these little babies takes a multidisciplinary approach with our obstetricians, paediatricians, neonatal nursing team and dietician all working together to ensure the premature baby continues to develop outside of the womb.
“Every aspect of life is observed very closely and managed. These babies can have multiple issues related to their immaturity which may require respiratory support, brain development and gut development.
“Every time a survival milestone was made with Mihlali, both the parents and staff breathed a little easier. It really is a rollercoaster of emotions and stress - both for the parents and the team involved in managing these premature babies.
“We couldn’t have asked for a more understanding mom, who despite all the challenges with the pandemic and having a small baby, always remained smiling and positive. Both mom and baby always kept the team wanting to push ourselves even more.
“Our little Mihlali has become the smallest celebrity and brightest hope in our hospital during these difficult times of the pandemic.”
Baby Mihlali spent a total of 73 days in the hospital and was discharged on September 10, 2021 at a weight of 2.2kg.
World Prematurity Month will be celebrated in November.
The Rondebosch Medical Centre Maternity and NICU will mark this special day this year by celebrating their Baby Mihlali success story and how their work enables them to witness “miracles” that continue to give hope, while never forgetting “the little angels who, despite all our efforts, did not return to their families because they were born too soon”.