Premature Infants (born before 37 weeks gestational age)
What is gestational age?
Gestational age is the number of weeks that the baby has been in the uterus. It is counted from the last menstrual period.
Gestational age gives an idea about the baby's growth and development during pregnancy and whether a baby can live outside the uterus. Full term babies are born between 37 and 42 weeks gestational age. Preterm babies are born before 37 weeks gestational age.
What should I expect if my baby is born prematurely?
This will depend on the gestational age of your baby at birth. The earlier your baby is born, the more help your baby will need. Preterm babies have special needs. They have not had the chance to fully grow and develop before birth. They need extra help breathing, keeping warm and eating. Preterm babies often have problems breathing because their lungs are not fully developed (respiratory distress syndrome - RDS).
Babies born very early need a machine (ventilator) to breathe for them. Premature babies who are born closer to their due date may only need some oxygen. They have tiny blood vessels in their brains, which can easily break. If these blood vessels break (intraventricular hemorrhage - IVH), there can be injury to the brain. Preterm babies often start feeding though a vein (IV) or through a tube that passes from the nose down to the stomach. Some preterm babies can have intestinal problems (necrotizing enterocolitis - NEC). This usually occurs after feedings have begun but may occur even before feedings are started. Feedings are started slowly to try to prevent this from happening.
23 Weeks Gestation
Babies born at or before 23 weeks gestation are too fragile to live. Only 1 or 2 out of every 10 babies born this early will survive. Babies who do live will need a ventilator to help them breathe. Many of these babies will have long-term breathing problems and need special medical equipment at home after discharge from the hospital. About 1/2 of the babies born at this age will have some kind of long-term health problem. The problem may be mild, such as weak or awkward movements, needing eyeglasses, a hearing aid or learning problems. One out of every three babies will have serious problems such as blindness, deafness, mental retardation, or problems moving and needing a wheel chair.
24-25 Weeks Gestation
Babies born between 24 and 25 weeks gestation have a 7 or 8 out of 10 chance of survival. Babies born at this time will need a ventilator to help them breathe. Some will need special medical equipment at home after discharge from the hospital. These babies are at risk for long-term health problems. One out of 3 babies born at this age will grow up without problems. One out of 3 will have mild or moderate problems and 1 out of 3 will have problems that are more serious. After birth, it is impossible to tell which babies will have problems and which ones will not. It may take months or years to determine their health problems.
26-29 Weeks Gestation
Babies born at this time weigh about 2 pounds and are about 15 inches long. Their chance of survival is very good. Nine out of 10 will go home. Many of these babies grow up healthy. Four out of 10 will grow up without long-term health problems. Another 4 out of 10 will have mild or moderate problems and about 1 out of 5 will have problems that are more serious. The closer to 29 weeks gestation your baby is born, the smaller the risk for long-term health problems.
30-33 Weeks Gestation
Most babies born between 30 and 33 weeks gestation do very well. Babies born during this time weigh between 2
I'm not sure what the exact point of this topic was but it's very reassuring to know that I'll be 35 weeks on Monday and my little man is doing great! I worry about him being a preemie because of the whole lung issue, but after three M/Cs and a lot of scares with DD I'm pretty jazzed about just making it this far. Haha.
Just sharing info :D hopefully reassuring moms-to-be and moms as well. I'll be 23 weeks on Monday so I'm still going to be cooking for a while!
Quoting S&S *22 weeks*:" Just sharing info :D hopefully reassuring moms-to-be and moms as well. I'll be 23 weeks on Monday so I'm still going to be cooking for a while!"
I thought so! Thanks for the share, this was really good information. Preemies have higher survival rates than I ever would have though, actually. I didn't know that many babies born before 25 weeks lived at all. Good luck to you and your LO on the rest of your pregnancy!
Thanks :) and I found this as well http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2243233/More-premature-babies-born-24-weeks-surviving--number-living-disabilities-rise.html yay! More 24 weekers are surviving!
This is really helpful. My little cousin was a 24 weeker and she is a perfectly fine 8 year old now :) Most people don't realize how much can be done to help a preeemie.
My first daughter was a 24 weeker & sadly she went to heaven. Then I had a healthy happy 37 weeker & finally with my 3rd daughter I went into labour at 25+6 & delivered her the following day at 26 weeks exactly.
We consequently had a loooong Nicu journey (23 weeks) before we finally brought her home. The complications she had were huge including a large PDA, NEC, SBS after the surgery, failure to thrive, liver damage from TPN & adrenal insufficiency. We nearly lost her on numerous occasions & are so blessed to have her.
We met lots & lots of parents on their NICU journey and was astonished at the sheer amount of loss. We met triplets (who very sadly only one went home) many twins (where only one went home) and a pair of twins who sadly neither went home.
Some losses impacted on us hugely. Firstly because we'd met &befriended the parents & secondly because they were all born around our daughter & at similar destinations. Our first loss was a little girl who was born 3 days after our little girl & died age 17 days.
A few weeks later we watched a little girl pass away who was born the same weekend our girl & passed away from NEC aged 8 weeks.
The next was a little boy who'd fought for a massive 18 weeks & just couldn't fight any longer.
I cried buckets when I was informed just as our Ellie left hospital that a little girl she'd been in the next incubator too had passed away aged 6 month. She just simply could not breath on her own.
I thought this was my closure on special care, hopefully I'd witnessed all the suffering I ever needed too. Now our baby was home surely we could close this chapter of loss.
How wrong I was. A whole year later, I was happily playing with the kids on the carpet when a text message popped up on my phone. Nothing could've prepared me for what I read.
It was from the mummy of A little girl born the weekend after my Ellie. We had sat & comforted each other over many cups of tea in the parents room.
She was texting to tell me the very sad news that her beautiful daughter had passed away the day before aged 18 month. She had passed as a direct result of her prematurity. It was as if someone had just given me a left hook.
I think my journey left me personally traumatised. We saw far far too much sadness. In six months in Nicu I only saw two 24 weekers go home. There is no doubt in my mind that prematurity kills.