When Kathryn Hodge's daughter was born, she avoided seeing her baby for a full day. "Within the first 24 hours I hadn't even visited her," said Mrs Hodge, a registered nurse.
Knowing there was only a 50/50 chance her daughter would survive the next 48 hours, she withdrew from her child as a defence mechanism.
It was an all too familiar situation for Mrs Hodge, who works with premature babies.
"When you have a baby like this, people think you've had this baby and it's just little," she said. "It's just a little baby and what's the big fuss about? People think they just need to put on some weight and they'll be fine."
But when Mrs Hodge's daughter was born at only 30 weeks, she was well aware what it would mean for her child's development, which includes possible lifelong impediments.
World Prematurity Day is on November 17, and organisers hope to inspire members of the community to turn something on their property purple to raise awareness of the struggles of people born prematurely.
Premature babies are over-represented in every category when it comes to health, Mrs Hodge said, and come winter, ex "preemies" are the first into the hospital wards.
They are more likely to suffer from respiratory problems, mental health issues, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, infections, and more. "If you put a group of children together, they will always be the ones that get sick," she said.
Part of this could be put down to developmental interference, she said.
"You've got a brain that isn't ready to be born yet."
The expected gestation length is 40 weeks. Babies born before 35 weeks are considered premature, and the legally viable age for babies in New Zealand is 24 weeks.
One premature child had to stay in the hospital for 150 days before it was ready to go home.
"Can you imagine as a family 150 days in a hospital?" It was also difficult for parents to bond with their children while they were under care, as contact was severely limited.
Mrs Hodge's first child is now 15 and still suffers from health issues. She also had twins born at 34 weeks, one of which now has hearing problems . She also suffers from speech problems and falls over more than usual. One of her children also has bronchiectasis, a lung condition that affects the body's ability to clear out mucus.
It was also hard to explain to family and friends the consequences of a baby being born prematurely, Mrs Hodge said, and many did not understand why they couldn't come and see the baby if they had a cold or hadn't washed their hands.
An underdeveloped immune system meant something that was relatively harmless to a full-term baby could be dangerous and possibly fatal to a premature baby.
One in 10 New Zealand babies are born prematurely, and although poverty can have an effect, premature birth "crosses all socio economic barriers".
"You have a diverse population in neo nates," Mrs Hodge said.
This year will be the first time New Zealand joins in supporting World Prematurity Day. Plunket in Wanganui will be holding a morning tea for parents of premature children up to a year old.