World Prematurity Day: Auckland mum reveals trauma of premature birth

An Auckland mother says the premature birth of her child was a "rollercoaster of a journey" that she never saw coming when she found out she was pregnant. 

Ahead of World Prematurity Day on Friday, Oliviera Tavui told AM host Melissa Chan-Green the experience had left her "grateful for the nurses" in the unit who assisted with her birth. 

It's estimated a premature baby is born every 90 minutes on average in Aotearoa, meaning more than 5000 babies (around 10 percent of all born in the country in a year) will have to go through a Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU).

Over 45 iconic buildings around the motu will be lit up purple on Friday to help raise awareness for prematurity and the impact it has on families and their mental health. 

"I had my baby at 25 weeks, so a lot earlier than planned," Tavui shared. "It was a rollercoaster of a journey - it opened my eyes to a lot of things that we don't necessarily experience in life and just being grateful for the nurses in the unit. 

"It's something that you never see yourself doing - you get told you're pregnant and you never expect to have them early. To go back and support the families is everything." 

Middlemore Hospital neonatal nurse Abby Parsons told Chan-Green the biggest issue parents of prematurely born babies face is that of their mental health. 

"There's a lot of grief that surrounds a pre-term birth, grief for the loss of the end of that pregnancy, the dream birth, all of those expectations that you have are disrupted, and it's really hard to adapt to a new situation." 

Watch the interview above.