A typical pregnancy lasts for roughly forty weeks. While it would be a beautiful dream to have babies arrive when they were supposed to, that isn't real life. Babies come late, a bit early, and sometimes really early. Babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy are considered to be preemies.
While all preemies have a higher chance of dealing with certain issues because of the earlier than anticipated appearance in the world, those born within a month of their due date have different needs compared to those who are born several months early.
If Mom's infant makes his or her debut one month early and is considered to be a late-term preemie, here are 20 things that she can expect from them. Remember, all babies are unique and some infants born four weeks before their due date will have none of these issues while others can battle several. Predicting which issues the child is up against is pretty much impossible unless specific ultrasounds and tests have indicated so. Many times preemie issues are the luck of the draw. Some kiddos face them while others thrive from day one.
In the end, whatever Mom's family faces during those newborn days one thing is for sure; the preemie is an absolute blessing and perfect in every way.
20 They can look a bit yellow
Jaundice doesn't only affect premature infants, all babies can struggle with this condition, but it's far more common in babies who happen to make their appearance earlier than expected. Jaundice babies have a higher level of bilirubin, and the whites of their eyes and their skin can have a yellowish hue to them.
Mild cases of jaundice often resolve on their own within a few weeks of life, but more difficult cases sometimes have to be treated in the hospital with special blue lights that counteract the high bilirubin levels. A good tan looks nice on adults, but it isn't something you want on a newborn!
19 They will be smaller than average
Babies who are less than five pounds and eight ounces are considered to be smaller than average infants. The majority of the time, preemies fall in the lightweight category. Rarely a mother has gestational diabetes and delivers a massive preemie. These tiny tots are at a higher rate for lots of conditions and disorders because of their small size.
Smaller infants can have lower oxygen rates at birth, might have issues with maintain ing their body temperature, and are often susceptible to infections. When it comes to newborns, the bigger, the better!
18 Breathing difficulties
Preemies are notorious for having a bevy of respiratory issues breathing down their necks when they are first born (no pun intended.). If a baby develops Respiratory Distress Disorder, chances are his lungs are still immature and aren't making enough surfactant. This important stuff is what infants count on to make their lungs expand once their leave the womb and breath air. Thankfully modern medicine has come leaps and bounds in regards to lung development and preemies. Many moms who deliver early might receive a dose of medication that will help speed up lung maturity and babies that still need some assistance will have the NICU ventilators to ease their transition.
17 Challenges regulating body temperature
Preemies are not great at controlling and, managing their body temperatures when they are first born. Tiny infants also don't have the body padding that helps to keep them nice and warm. These babies often spend their first few days in warm incubators as their little bodies learn to stay at exactly the right temperatures. It's quite dangerous for small babies to work so hard to keep their temperature stable. That process exerts too much of their precious energy, which can be better used for other things. The good news is that babies who can't regulate body temperature eventually figure it all out, so hang in there.
16 Hurdles with feeding
Most full-term infants take to their daily meals as if they are the most natural thing in the world because typically speaking- they are! When babies come a month early they are hit and miss in the suckling and swallowing department.
Some little ones have no problem taking to the bottle or nursing, but others can't yet figure out how to put it all together. Even when they do manage to figure it out, they often cease to wake up for their feedings, or they fall asleep before completing their meals. Some mothers of late-term preemies find that pumping after feedings help keep their supplies up even when they kiddo is not finishing his meal.
15 A Possible NICU stay
A possible NICU stay is never what a set of new parents wants to hear. Nearly every parent hopes that their baby will remain in utero for nine months and come home with their eager parents after a few days. This scenario is not always the case for babies that arrive a month before their birthday.
These infants do sometimes meet all of the hospital requirements and can leave the maternity ward shortly after their birth, but others earn an extended stay for one reason or another. Sometimes these little guys take a quick vacation to the NICU while they sort out their still-developing body systems.
14 Increased chance of certain health issues
Preemies are at a higher threat for infections compared to full-term infants. They are not yet able to battle germs in the same way as their larger, more developed 40-week counterparts. Doctors will want to make entirely sure that infection isn't posing a threat to your baby. They might suggest certain medications and antibiotics that can help your later-term preemie stave off dangerous infections that could wreak havoc on their tiny bodies. A bad viral or bacterial infection is the last thing that you want for your new baby! Keeping these early birds safe and healthy is the absolute top concern.
13 Difficulty stabilizing sugars
We all have sugars in our blood, and we need to keep them at healthy levels to function properly. Healthy humans have insulin to help keep their sugars in check, but many later-term preemies struggle with keeping sugars on point. Preemies sometimes find that they are waiting on their pancreas to develop fully. They might have also been born in stressful situations or earlier than expected because their mom had gestational diabetes. All of these can attribute to sugar level concerns in late term preemies. Often those sugar levels are too high or too low for doctors to feel comfortable with. Babies who have fluctuating sugar levels are medically monitored before they can be cleared to go home.
12 They can experience Apnea spells
If you stare at a newborn for long enough, and all parents will, you might see that they sometimes look like they cease breathing for just a few seconds. Quick pauses in breathing are nothing to lose your mind over. Newborns are known for this surprising but ordinary trick. What isn't normal, of safe, the breathing stops for long periods. Apnea is a condition characterized by a pause in breathing patterns lasting for longer than twenty seconds. When apnea occurs, another bad situation can be triggered, Bradycardia, which signals a drop in oxygen levels. Doctors will often monitor preemies to makes sure breathing patterns and oxygen levels are stable.
11 Low pressure levels
While many of us older adults find ourselves battling high blood pressure levels later on in life, premature infants find themselves fighting the opposite condition. A low blood pressure level in premature infants occurs fairly often and is something that doctors will monitor closely. This dip in levels can happen for several reasons in newborns but commonly attributed to blood loss during delivery, fluid loss during childbirth, infections that the infant has contracted or medications that were administered to the mother. Low blood pressure levels are also often seen in babies who have Respiratory Distress Disorder.
10 They can be at a higher risk for behavioral challenges
When you give birth to your baby, there is no telling what kind of personality traits or behavioral characteristics they will end up exhibiting when they are older. Premature infants also run the risk of developing behavioral challenges down the road.
Infants born at 36 weeks are more likely to require behavioral and psychiatric needs. According to some research, infants who arrived even a month early were less likely to follow directions and perform memory tasks when compared to full term born children.
9 Learning concerns may be more prevalent down the line
Plenty of preemie babies go on to lead incredible fulfilling and normal lives, beating even the greatest odds set against them at their birth. Some of these infants, however, will go on to develop learning issues as they become school-aged. One study shows reduced developmental outcomes at nine months of age. These outcomes weren't detectable in the toddler years but resurfaced around kindergarten, particularity affecting reading and math. When you have a premature baby, it's wise to consider certain early intervention services if you and your doctor feel it is necessary for your kiddo's future learning endeavors.
8 There is an increased chance of particular developmental disorders
When you are pregnant, the most difficult thing to consider is that you could give birth to a baby with certain medical needs. If your baby is born late pre-term, the chance of her having something like this is reduced when compared to preemies born months and months before their due date, but the risk is still higher when compared to infants who arrive at the forty-week mark.
Neurological conditions like cerebral palsy are more likely to happen to a baby who is born at a low birth weight or is preterm. One study found that the incidence of Cerebral Palsy in late pre-term infants was six-fold higher than full-term babies.
6 Pneumonia is more prevalent compared to babies born full term
The development of pneumonia in any newborn is dangerous but even more so in an infant that is considered to be premature. In short, pneumonia is an infection in the part of the lung that is responsible for the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen. The inflammation that pneumonia creates reduces space available for air exchange and can decrease oxygen availability. Doctors can treat pneumonia with antibiotics, supplemental oxygen and sometimes with intubation. If left untreated though, meningitis and sepsis can occur, and even fetal demise can happen.
5 An immature gastrointestinal and digestive system
The gastrointestinal and digestive systems of late-preterm babies are often not ready to take on the feeding demands of the real world. These babies not only struggle with taking their meals down but also with processing them once they get into the body. Preemies with immature gastrointestinal systems will have more difficulty absorbing the nutrients that they so desperately need. If this seems to be the case, then a baby might undergo intravenous feedings for some time. These little ones will eventually work their way up to a baby bottle, little by little. In no time, they will... by sucking down mama's milk and growing like a weed.
4 They might be born with an extra vessel
In full-term, healthy newborn babies, a vessel called the ductus arteriosus closes shortly after the birth. With preemies though, the vessel often remain open when it should be closing. This common preemie condition is called patent ductus arteriosus. When the vessel ceases to shut, this can cause issues with breathing.
Medications treat this condition in about 80% of the cases. In the cases where medicines don't do the trick, babies may have to undergo surgery to clamp the ductus shut. Thank goodness for modern medicine!
3 A higher rate of developing asthma
Asthma is more common in babies who were born prematurely than in babies who were born at forty weeks. While parents of preemies might be concerned that this lifelong condition might afflict their precious little one, some good news exists. One Danish study discovered that children who were born prematurely and later developed asthma disappears for the most part by the time adulthood is reached. These findings offer some hope to parents who have babies that fight asthma in their earlier years. These little ones might look small and frail at birth, but they are definitely little fighters.
2 Increased chance of lower heart rates (bradycardia)
Developing Bradycardia isn't something that most parents of newborns ever have to worry about, but NICU moms know this term all too well. Bradycardia is a condition that many preemies develop. Bradycardia often goes hand in hand with another condition, apnea. The apnea is a cease in breathing for a period of longer than twenty seconds, and the Bradycardia often follows. Bradycardia is a reduction of the infant's heart rate. Closely monitored preemies will have alarms sounding off if either of these precarious conditions happens to take place. The hospital is the safest place for a newborn with these conditions to be.
1 Higher rates of anemia
A lot of newborn babies don't have enough red blood cells when they are first born, meaning that they can not adequately carry oxygen throughout the body. When this happens, anemia sets in. Aside from a baby simply not having enough red blood cells in their body, the red blood cells that they do contain, have a shorter life cycle compared to adults. In some cases of anemia, blood transfusions might be necessary. Thankfully anemia is something that medical professionals can remedy easily. It won't be long before your baby is churning out red blood cells like a champ.
Sources: healthline.com, parenting.firstcry.com, verywellfamily.com, medicalnewstoday.com, americanpregnancy.org