LIMA — Instead of being the guest of honor at a baby shower planned months in advance, Angela Rasor spent that day at the funeral home — grieving the loss of her son, Brennan.
He was only 5 days old when he died in the summer of 2004.
Lima native Rasor, 35, went through every emotion.
“I went through a lot of resentment and anger,” she said. “We planned for pregnancy. We did everything right. I ate right.”
Though Rasor did everything she could to have a healthy baby, many babies become part of the infant mortality statistic because their mothers didn’t do everything they could, starting with consistent prenatal care.
Ohio ranks 48th in the nation for overall infant mortality, or any time an infant dies before age 1, and much of the deaths in the state are due to low birth weight and pre-maturity. Both have gotten worse in the past five years, according to Allen County Public Health.
The infant mortality rate in Ohio, measured by the number of live births per 1,000 where the baby dies before his or her first birthday, was 7.57 in 2012, the most recent data available.
WHAT TO DO
In order to make sure babies is healthy, the Ohio Department of Health urges pregnant women to get the appropriate medical care, talk to a doctor and stop smoking.
Marilyn Kindig, medical director at Heartbeat of Lima and a local obstetrician and gynecologist, said people in the community who have a low socio-economic status may be at an increased risk for preterm labor.
A pregnancy is considered full term when a woman carries to 40 weeks. If a baby comes before the woman has been pregnant for 24 to 25 weeks, the baby “most likely won’t live,” she said. “There’s nothing medical professionals can do to help you.”
What can help is getting early prenatal care.
If a woman comes into the emergency room ready to deliver and hasn’t had any prenatal care, problems could arise that doctors can’t fix.
Seeing a doctor before a woman is even pregnant can make a big difference, Kindig said.
“Preterm labor, blood clots, infections, all can be managed if women see an obstetrician before and during pregnancy,” she said.
Her recommendation is to not let fear stop women from getting prenatal care.
“A lot of women are scared to get care or don’t have access to care,” she said. “Try a different doctor or practitioner. You need a doctor you can talk to, who will understand you and believe you.”
When it comes to medically preventing preterm labor and, subsequently, infant mortality, the hormone progesterone may also help.
Though it’s a relatively new solution, doctor-prescribed progesterone can help women who have previously had a preterm labor avoid it again, Kindig said.
Administered in a shot or inserted into the vagina, the hormone stabilizes the uterus and the muscle of the uterus and stops contractions, she said.
Even before Brennan was born, Rasor remembers feeling like something was wrong.
It started when she saw a positive on her pregnancy test. She and her husband were childless at the time but had planned to start a family.
“I never could picture ever bringing him home,” she said. “There was a disconnect.”
Rasor went into labor early at 33 weeks and found out her son had a fatal chromosomal disorder when he was born. There was nothing she, her husband or the doctors could do or could have done, and all her ultrasounds looked fine. It wasn’t until he was born that the problems were seen.
Rasor went through several emotions, including guilt, after losing Brennan. The guilt came after her second child was born healthy and people asked her how many children she had.
“I would say two but that one died,” she said, explaining that she went through a “roller coaster” of emotions after his death.
“I knew I had to just keep moving forward,” she said.
What really got her through was her relationship with God and her faith, she said.
“You get to a point where you have to figure out not why it happened but how you’re going to get through it and use it to help other people,” Rasor said. “I believe … we’re here to help other people. Going through something as traumatic as losing a baby, there’s a reason for that.”
Reach Danae King at 567-242-0511 or on Twitter @DanaeKing.