Understanding Premature Babies

premature babyIf you are at risk of having a premature baby, a baby born earlier than 37 weeks of gestation, then it is particularly important that you understand the differences between a full-term baby and a premature baby. This can eliminate some of the stress new parents encounter with a preemie.

For one, be prepared to have your infant in the hospital after you are discharged. How long your infant stays depends entirely on how early they were born and any pre or post-birth difficulties they encounter.

Also, prepare yourself for tubes and wires when you first see your new addition. Babies born before 35 weeks of age may have difficulty breathing on their own, so they will be placed on a ventilator. To keep your baby fed and hydrated, an IV will also be inserted. There will be leads attached to your little one to track their heartbeat, respiratory rate, and oxygen levels. All this is in place to ensure that your baby is healthy and well.

Many premature infants also have jaundice, meaning that their liver, which is responsible for recycling old blood cells, cannot keep up. The baby's skin turns a yellow shade, and to help their liver catch up, they are placed under special lights for a day or two. They'll even have cool little shades attached to their head!

During this time when your baby is in the hospital, it is important to spend as much time together as you can. Hold your baby (if they are well enough), and try to get in some skin to skin contact. Studies have shown that the more skin contact a preemie has with their mother, the faster they are released from the hospital.

You will also need to start pumping during this time, as most preemies will not be able to breastfeed. Do not worry; they will soon catch on once the appropriate muscles develop. If your preemie can bottle feed, then try to be there for feeding time for some additional bonding.

Once released from the hospital, your preemie will have a few follow-up visits with a pediatrician to ensure that they are growing and developing properly. Preemies generally grow and develop a bit slower than their full term peers, but by the time they are two years old, they have usually caught up.

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Understanding Premature Babies

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14 comments

  1. Profile photo of mommy nhoj mommy nhoj says:

    We were afraid we’ll never make it to full term but she did! Though it was earlier than projected, she’s more than 37 weeks then! We just followed doctors’ orders with prayers in our side.

  2. Profile photo of LIZ says:

    good reading tnx

  3. Profile photo of Theresa Theresa says:

    I wish i would have known all this 11 years ago, when my son was born at 33 weeks. the experience did prepare me for my second pregnancy, though. My 2nd baby was very healthy, being born at 39 weeks 1 day.

  4. Profile photo of sathyaa sathyaa says:

    i do have this worry in my mind since i might deliver in 35 weeks

  5. Profile photo of ChrisS ChrisS says:

    This good to know. My brother is expecting his first child, however his wife is having complication (health wise). Each 2-3 weeks during pregnancy she has to see three specialist for her case. She is consider as a high risk for delivering the baby. So, it is good to know what to expect when time comes.

  6. Profile photo of emi285 emi285 says:

    My fourth child was born a month early. She was 6lbs 5oz, so weight was not a concern, but we had to stay in the hospital extra days for her jaundice, and made many trips back and forth to the hospital and doctors office for weight checks and blood tests. It was a scary time, but we made it through that and more!

  7. Profile photo of Faleshia Faleshia says:

    This is wonderful advise and knowledge to have! my doc is doing my c-section at 37wks so this wont be a problem. but im glad that i have read this article so that im prepared for everything!!

  8. Profile photo of Julie Julie says:

    I just reached my 37 week mark which I have heard is considered full term. I am glad I no longer have to worry about this.

  9. Profile photo of lisa_iowa lisa_iowa says:

    My first was born at 28.5 weeks. It was so hard to have her in the hospital 40 minutes away. Since then, all my babies have been born +/- 8 days of their due date.

  10. i hope my little one stays put until @ least 37 weeks

  11. Profile photo of SammysMOMMY SammysMOMMY says:

    I’m expecting to deliver preterm. So much to learn and so little time.

  12. Profile photo of brandy brandy says:

    fingers crosses i dont go into labor early

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