CHESTERFIELD (WRIC) - The March of Dimes gives Virginia a "C" for its efforts.
The pre-term birth rate is slightly up for 2012 - 11.3 percent.
That's better than it was in 2006 (12 percent), but too many parents are still going down this road every day.
Brenda Conley is a Chesterfield business owner, but it's only recently that she's been back to work full-time. Her hands were full at home for a few years.
Conley's the mom of two preemies -- Lauren, who's about to turn five, was born at 30 weeks. 3-year-old Gabby arrived at 27 weeks.
"It was funny my doctor always told me don't worry," she says. "Lightning never strikes twice in the same spot so when I found myself in that situation, I was petrified."
Like many mothers of premature babies, Conley says she did everything by the book and her doctor didn't even talk about the possibility that her little girls could come early.
But premature births are still a major concern -- babies born too soon often don't have fully-developed lungs, brains or other organs.
"As a mom you start racing through your mind is there anything I did to cause this?"
Virginia has made strides in some risk areas. The March of Dimes says there's been a big drop in women of childbearing age who smoke or who don't have health insurance.
But Conley says everyone needs to talk about the issue more.
She's getting the conversation started by talking about her little miracles - both healthy and happy now - who had a rough start to life.
"It really does help to share your story with other people who are in the same situation as you."
By 2020, the March of Dimes hopes to have a preterm birth rate of 9.6 percent here and across the country.
To read the full report and see how Virginia compares to other states, click here.
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