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"Preterm" vs. "Premature"-- Am I the only one who knows the difference?! - Page 2

post #21 of 120
Why do people think it's cool to be in that club? I don't know. Maybe the same reason they think it's cool to be in the club of women who were "delievered of" their babies by a "miracle working" doctor?
post #22 of 120
Even the several books I have on prematurity written for parents don't make too great a distinction. Some babies have more complications of prematurity, some, although born somewhat prematurely, have less or none at all. And I think some unknowing parents consider a fullterm baby of low birth weight to be premature.
post #23 of 120
A baby can be full term and of a good weight and still for some reason be pre-mature.

Also I had forgotten about preemie cabbage patch dolls. And I had one!! that is sick and twisted., Why not just call them cabbage patch babies. after all the others were supposed to be toddlers.
post #24 of 120
Excellent thread.

IRL, I almost never call out the fact that my twins were born early. In fact, as I just wrote that, I realize that IS how I put it (and only when someone asks, which they ALWAYS do since it's twins). I say, "they were a little early" or something like that. I only use the word preemie or say they were premature when pressed or when I know I am specifically talking to moms of preemies or people for whom knowledge that my babies were early is important.

My babies were born at 32 weeks, too.

But they were fine, and now healthy as can be, and so I don't see the point of calling it out, kwim?
post #25 of 120
Yeah, it drives me nuts too. I am an NICU RN, so trust me, I know the difference. I get parents all the time who say they had a "preemie" when in reality, their baby wasn't even preterm!

I save the term "preemie" to only our smallest, sickest babies. They truly deserve it.
post #26 of 120
I had no idea that some people considered babies born any time before 40 weeks preemies! That's pretty silly. Dd was born at just past 37 weeks and I never really considered her preterm or anything. I just figure she needed less gestational time to fully develop. Her apgars were 10/10 and she nursed vigorously for 1/2 hour as soon as she was out of my body. She weighed 6lbs11oz and was 20 inches long. Completely normal size. I always tell people that she was born a little before her due date. The whole "preemie club" idea is pretty silly to me.
post #27 of 120
We learned the premature/preterm distinction in premed anatomy & physiology. I thought it would at least be common knowledge for doctors and nurses...

I'm always stunned when people think of kids as preemies if they were born even a little before their due dates. It is like they want to be part of some mama-martyr club or something. I don't understand what could possibly be attractive about it.
post #28 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by etoilech
As a mum of a 29 week premature infant, it does really irk me too. "The club" isn't nearly as cool as some people seem to think it is.

My brother was born at home at 26-28 weeks (not sure, his birth mom wasn't sure) he was 2 pounds 2 ounces. G-tube, oral aversions, lung issues- whole bunch of stuff I am sure I don't know about. And he was delayed beyond his adjusted age a whole bunch.

My cousin was an elective c section at 38 weeks. And her mother would always excuse her behavior or tantrum 'well, she's a premie, she just can't handle this yet' or 'we can't expect her to do whatever, she's a premie'

I *still* remember my aunt's face when cousin was 8 or 9 aunt gave such explanation and mom said 'most premies are all caught up by 7 years old' in a way blowing off my aunt's bad parenting (or lack of). Teehee.

I honestly never knew there was a distinction. All my kids have been "post dates" or as I say, a little late like me!
post #29 of 120
I am working on subtle distinctions myself right now. I have "pre-term contractions" which is NOT "pre-term labor" (unless the contractions change the cervix, it isn't labor, never mind that they hurt).

I am hoping this one stays until 36 weeks. At that point, I consider her full term. I had read that anytimeafter 37 weeks is term and as long as she is delevloped, I see no need to call her a premee.

My nephew was born at 34 weeks. Still don't think of him as a premee. He was just born early.

my cousin's triplets born at 30w4d, They were premees and needed those weeks in the hospital.
post #30 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy
I've met several babies who were introduced to me as "preemies" or "premature" babes who were just preterm.
yes this bugs me too. Not just for the semantics, but because many mothers of premature babies tend to refer to that baby as a preemie for a long time- up through the first year. "Jack is 5 months old, he was a preemie..."usually I can see this is because many moms wish to explain the possible gap in developement so their child does not end up being unfairly judged or compared.
But the "my baby was 2 weeks premature" just make me
post #31 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foobar
I am hoping this one stays until 36 weeks. At that point, I consider her full term.

Hang in there Foobar. If you're sure of your dates, then 36 weeks is NOT full term. It's a month early! You want to grow that babe as long as possible. Will a 36 weeker spend weeks in the NICU... almost definitely not. BUT... 36 weekers (and other slightly pre-term babes) are notorious for being slow to develop good nursing reflexes (remember, it takes some full term babies a few days or more to figure it out!) and are very, very sleepy babies, making demand feeding near impossible. Not all, but many.

My 32 weekers didn't develop good nursing reflexes and the ability to demand feed until right around their original due date. Wouldn't you know?!

So, if I were you, I'd aim for 38 weeks as being the minimum, which is the earliest range normally considered for "full term" (i.e., 38 to 42 weeks).

fwiw, I had pre-term contractions for one month before it turned into actual pre-term labor. My cervix was 0 and closed until 12 hours before I delivered. So it's possible to contract and contract MANY times per hour with no cervical change. As long as your OB or midwife is monitoring, you can breathe easy.

Good luck!
post #32 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Periwinkle
Hang in there Foobar. If you're sure of your dates, then 36 weeks is NOT full term. It's a month early! You want to grow that babe as long as possible. Will a 36 weeker spend weeks in the NICU... almost definitely not. BUT... 36 weekers (and other slightly pre-term babes) are notorious for being slow to develop good nursing reflexes (remember, it takes some full term babies a few days or more to figure it out!) and are very, very sleepy babies, making demand feeding near impossible. Not all, but many.
This was my experience with a 37-weeker. We were instructed to wake him and feed him every 3 hours around the clock, going no longer than 4 hours at night. When he developed jaundice that schedule was amended to every 2 hours. And we couldn't work out nursing in bed at all. We had to really work at getting him wakeful enough to nurse, by undressing him so he would get chilly, blowing in his face, running a wet wipe over his body, and trying to get him latched on before he fell back asleep. If he nursed at least 5 minutes we would call it a success, but if he just dropped right back off to sleep after 15-30 seconds we had to wake him up again. usually changing his diaper would do the trick. Then he would poop 30 seconds into the feeding and need another change straight away. Then we would re-dress him, swaddle him back up and put him back in the bassinet. I would look at the clock and realize I had less than an hour before it was time to start over again. Not so bad during the day, but man was it hard at night. This went on for 3-4 weeks before he started being more wakeful and eating frequently enough on his own.

It is HARD to feed a baby that just wants to sleep. At the time I thought this must be "normal" for newborns but I have since learned from other people that 40-week and later babies are a lot better at waking and nursing. I do hope that my next baby will make it to 39+ weeks so the beginning won't be quite the same ordeal again.
post #33 of 120
My dd was preterm (36 weeks 6 days) but weighed 9 lbs 15 oz. I did have PTL beginning at 32 weeks. She had no initial problems but did end up in the NICU for 5 days after 4 days at home. She had pathologic jaundice, which is apparently quite rare and for us was due to a blood incompatibility between her and I. (It can sometimes be due to a liver disorder and I am so thankful that it was not the case.) Her highest bili level was 28.5 and she had two blood transfusions.

She was (and is) a fantastic nurser. Much of our success is due to VERY pro-BF nurses in the NICU.

ETA that I usually just say she was three weeks early. I remember feeling so blessed that she was able to come home after only 5 days. She was so big compared to the other babies there. And there were quite a few babies who had been there for a long time.
post #34 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by wakeUpMama
This was my experience with a 37-weeker. We were instructed to wake him and feed him every 3 hours around the clock, going no longer than 4 hours at night..../snip/ I would look at the clock and realize I had less than an hour before it was time to start over again. Not so bad during the day, but man was it hard at night. This went on for 3-4 weeks before he started being more wakeful and eating frequently enough on his own.


Yup... that is VERY consistent with my experience and a lot of friends I know who had babes at that 35 to 38 week mark, i.e., definitely "early" but not quite "full blown" preemies either.

I had to set an alarm clock to feed dd and ds -- every 2 hours too!! It would take me 30 minutes (or more) to get them to wake up. WE're talking, stripping them down, cool washcloth on their back, tickling their toes, turning on the lights bright, you name it. Then another 15 minutes just trying to latch them on. They'd nurse for 5 minutes and fall asleep again.... and then I'd have to try to wake them up again... over and over for AT LEAST an hour, many times 1.5 hours. I would finally crawl back in bed and literally 30 or 45 minutes later the alarm would go off again. There were many times when I never set the alarm because I had just finally finished a feeding and it was time to start the next one again. ARGH!!

One time I crawled into bed after a middle-of-the-night feeding and forgot to set the alarm. Dh and I woke up around 6 hours later -- dd and ds were still SOUND asleep. Never stirred or woke to eat. We missed like 3 feedings. We felt horrible and never did that again. But it underscored to me how they would literally starve themselves to death if given half a chance.

Not only can it be a huge hassle, but you are constantly, constantly worried that your sweet baby isn't eating enough. My LC came by almost daily to weigh them -- they're growth definitely picked up around the time they were full term too.

Then miraculously as they approached their due date, bingo -- they'd start waking themselves up to feed! I remember being positively jubuliant, but man that was a loooong few weeks!!

As I like to say, "full term is full term." Just because a baby can breathe on its own doesn't mean all of its reflexes are there (like nursing or self-waking to eat). And just because a baby isn't necessarily a "preemie" (although a true 36 weeker would probably count as a preemie), doesn't mean you're not going to have a real struggle til they get closer to their original due date. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, but it my own experience, they are just that: exceptions to the rule, namely the overwhelming majority of mothers of babies born before 38 completed weeks say they've had nursing and/or feeding issues for a couple of weeks. No fun.

Sooo... hang in there! Every day counts. It sounds cliche, but it's true.
post #35 of 120
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyneburh
I do refer to my sister that way but it's because her reflexes and such tested as being two weeks early right after she was born. She was induced at 41.5 weeks and the inductions didn't take, didn't take, didn't take and finally took. So when I'm talking about her birth it's to make the point that she should have been born closer to 44 weeks. I think babies who are born at 38 weeks who are supposed to be born that early are no more premature then I was at 40w,11 days. With my sister she was supposed to be born later so I do refer to her as two weeks early.
See, there's a big difference between saying "two weeks early" and "two weeks premature" which is the whole reason I started this thread. Which do you mean? If her gestational age was consistant with 38 weeks, then she was "two weeks early"; if it was more consistant with 35 or 36 weeks then she could potentially have been "two weeks premature", but they're two entirely different things, hence the distinction.
post #36 of 120
I appreciate this thread.

My twin sister and I were born at 32 weeks. Although we were 'early', we didn't have any problems. We were kept in the hospital till we reached 5 lbs, as was the standard back then, but for no other reason.

My dd was born at 36 weeks. She was in the hospital for a week, just because it was policy to keep all babies not at 37 weeks in for a week. She had no problems either, and we were actually moved from the NICU part we were in the first few days because her healthiness and loud crying was upsetting and preplexing to the parents who really had the sick/premature babies.

My mom never went around saying we were premature. I don't know what it's like now, but back in the '70's/80's, if you said the word premature, it meant retarded or slow to a lot of people. My mom didn't want us being labeled like that, just because we came out two months before we were 'supposed' to.

Once in a while, I tell people that dd was a little early, but I rarely give out the week number, just because I remember what it was like for us, if people found out we were early. I can still hear this one woman, when we were 18 years old, no less, and my mom said, oh, yeah, they were born two months early, and the lady stared at us like we were insects and said, "Are they normal?"

:
post #37 of 120
I never made it to 37 weeks with either of my babies..
DS was born at 36.6 weeks 7 lbs even.. he did have jaundice & was in the hospital a few days.. but in regular nursery & didnt need anything but the lights

DD was born at 36.3 weeks, 7 lbs 4 oz..
I did have preterm labor starting at 32 weeks (was 2 cms , contracting every 5 mins & hospitalized a week) & stayed on meds till 36 weeks (4 cms when I came off meds) .. but she was perfect & came home the day after birth

I didnt consider either of them preterm or premature
post #38 of 120
Interesting thread! I never knew there was a difference.

My first DD was born around 38 weeks and we had the whole having to wake her to eat, etc. for a couple weeks. I never thought of her as preterm or preemie or anything like that, but perhaps she could have used another week or so cooking. I was just thrilled she made it as far as she did considering all the contractions I had. She was neither preterm nor premature though.

My second was born at 37 weeks 0 days -- the very first day I could have her at the birth center instead of the hospital. She was a healthy 7lbs and seemed to have very few difficulties from being a bit early. The only time I thought of her "adjusted" age was just when my due date rolled around and she was approaching a month old.

To be honest, one of my big concerns with another baby is having a preemie. I had a lot of contractions with both of my pregnancies. And with DD#2 being on the border of "too" early, I think about it a lot. It's a "club" I would rather not join. My heart goes out to all of you who have had to endure time in the NICU with a baby who came too soon.
post #39 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by momtokay
Interesting thread! I never knew there was a difference.

My first DD was born around 38 weeks and we had the whole having to wake her to eat, etc. for a couple weeks. I never thought of her as preterm or preemie or anything like that, but perhaps she could have used another week or so cooking.
Ditto... except i was induced. : Dd was very sleepy, I hionestly think shw wasn't ready to be born.

Ds was born the day before his edd and was totally alert.

Thanks for the distinction. I always just said two weeks early for dd... never used preterm or premature.

Not a cool club I think!
post #40 of 120
I am soooooooooooooo glad to see this!!! I belong to another board and we have a Preemies forum and I really dislike when the mommas who had 35-36 weekers pop in and say their babies, who spent maybe one-two nights in the NICU had preemies. No - I'm sorry you didn't. You had pre-term infants who have no issues at all.

I am the mom of 29 week very low birth weight babies who were in the NICU for 12 & 8 weeks respectively who both have CP.

I agree with the mom who posted - "why would you want to belong to this group?". It's not fun and my boys are 5 now and we're still dealing with the issues (one of my boys FINALLY got a diagnosis after fighting for services for 5 yrs).

Thanks for letting me vent.
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