CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Texas ranks among the worst states for pregnant women in which to give birth.
In 2021, the state received a D-grade from the March of Dimes for an 11 percent preterm-birth rate.
A Corpus Christi couple knows all-too-well about the dangers of giving birth prematurely, after soon-to-be mom Miranda Nava was rushed to the ER because her baby wasn't breathing.
"Everything that happened, happened so fast and it was very unexpected," she said.
By all accounts, it was a normal pregnancy for Nava.
"I was at lunch and it was like 11 a.m., about to be 12, and I hadn't felt her move yet," she said.
Thanks to her cousin's intuition and persistence, Nava was rushed to a local hospital.
What followed would change the course of what had been a picture-perfect pregnancy, in an instant.
"When she got wheeled back, I just remember those doors opening and hearing them say, 'Your wife and baby are in critical condition,' " said Justin Nava.
Corpus Christi Medical Center Bay Area Dr. Miguel De Leon navigated the parents-to-be through the frightening situation.
"Upon arrival, it was noticed that there was a catastrophic situation for mom and for baby, so she was rushed to have a C-section," he said.
Miranda Nava had pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication that can cause high-blood pressure and preterm labor. That, coupled with a ruptured placenta, caused her baby girl Ever Leigh to be without oxygen.
"I woke up not knowing if she was even alive," Nava said. "They had to resuscitate her upon birth."
In 2021, the CDC reported preterm births affected 1 of every 10 infants born in the state of Texas.
Even though Miranda Nava was at 36 weeks gestation — full-term gestation is 40 weeks — a baby's brain, lungs, and liver all need the final weeks of pregnancy to fully develop.
"The ER came together, they worked very quickly and notified our labor-and-delivery service, who acted very quickly to take care of mom and get the baby delivered," said Corpus Christi Medical Center Bay Area Neonatal Services' Liberty King. "Then the baby went to neonatal services, where we were able to provide care. This baby should have had a poor outcome."
After an emergency C-section and 15 days in the NICU, Ever Leigh Nava is at home and doing well. She continues to eat well, gain weight and find her voice.
Next up for Ever Leigh is a visit to the cardiologist and neurologist to ensure her heart, and cognitive ability is progressing.
Preventing preterm birth remains a challenge because there are many causes, which may be complex and not always well understood, but there are some important steps a pregnant woman can take to help reduce the risk of preterm birth and improve their general health:
- quit smoking.
- avoid the use of any alcohol and drugs.
- be sure to get prenatal care as soon as you think you may be pregnant, and throughout the pregnancy.
- seek medical attention for any warning signs or symptoms of preterm labor
- finally, always talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about any concerns throughout pregnancy.