"Preterm" vs. "Premature"-- Am I the only one who knows the difference?! - Page 3 - Mothering Forums
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#61 of 120 Old 02-19-2008, 03:37 PM
 
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I never knew there was a difference in the 2 terms. I have always heard them used interchangably.

My nephew was born at 34 weeks. He was sent by airvac to a NICU per SOP at the hospital but other then feeding problems the NICU Drs felt were due to the sedation he was given for the flight, he was fine. So I guess one could debate if he was premature or preterm because we don't know for sure it was the sedation that gave him the rough start or not.

I was born at 34 weeks and was put in an incubator only because I was born in the hallway. I had no other issues not even feeding issues.

My younger brother was born at 36 weeks. He also had no issues.

So when my daughter was called premature from WIC, I felt that was so wrong. My daughter was born at 37 weeks 5 days. To me I knew that my nephew, my brother and I were lucky to have no issues. So to put my daughter in the premature catagory seemed incorrect to me. Know I now I was correct.
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#62 of 120 Old 02-19-2008, 04:10 PM
 
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The distinction doesn't really bother me either way. What does chap my hide is when people refer to the NICU as "the preemie unit." It's for all neonatal special care issues - including illness and injury. Not all full term babies are healthy.
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#63 of 120 Old 02-19-2008, 04:42 PM
 
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My boys were born at 34w, at 3.11 and 5.10 so they were definitely pre-term. Premature? I guess, but I didn't go around talking about it much. They were in the NICU a week, but compared to many of the other kids there mine didn't have any serious problems. They had ng-tubes for a few days until they could suck. After the NICU they spent 3 days on a pediatric floor.

They were kind of on the smaller side until around 2yo, but not noticeably.

I have two friends who had term babies that spent time in the NICU (for a heart problem, and for detox) so I'd never think of it as the preemie unit.

And using "he's a preemie" as an excuse for a, say, five year old's behavior, when he was born at 36w? Please!

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#64 of 120 Old 02-19-2008, 04:49 PM
 
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Thanks for the education, I didn't even realize there was a difference between the two terms. That said, I don't think I've had to use either in conversation before.

Mara, mama to two boys born 05/2009 and 04/2011, after four miscarriages. 

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#65 of 120 Old 02-19-2008, 05:18 PM
 
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My daughter was supposedly 36+1 when she was born, and she was bigger and more mature than my 37+1 son. Both were fine at birth, although I was repeatedly told by the pediatrician, lactation consultants etc that since the girl was a "preemie" she wouldn't be able to suck well enough to establish a milk supply in me. Well, she's 2 weeks old today and (knock on wood) so far she's a great nurser, and I'm definitely not lacking in the milk department. I think they both came when it was their time to come, even if that was weeks ahead of the average. I guess they just baked quickly. I don't think either was premature. Preterm, perhaps, depending on who you ask.
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#66 of 120 Old 02-19-2008, 09:17 PM
 
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I've never heard anyone call anything after 36 weeks preterm or premature.

I wouldn't consider mine early if born at or after 36 weeks. No more than I consider mine "post dates" at only 42 weeks.
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#67 of 120 Old 02-19-2008, 11:22 PM
 
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I would. I've seen 36 weeks. It's early. Sure, most of the time, they're not intebated with being fed via IV with TPN, but most of the time they're still sleepy, floppy, weaker, poorer latch, poorer suck, etc. compared to a baby born when they should be.

A lot of people get to 36 weeks and exhale. I didn't. When I got to 36 weeks with #3, I prayed every day to get a couple of more weeks.
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#68 of 120 Old 02-19-2008, 11:35 PM
 
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My sister's first was 35.5 weeks and had no problems at all. I guess that colors my views.
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#69 of 120 Old 02-19-2008, 11:46 PM
 
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I don't mean this disrespectfully, but a lot of parents of preemies say their babies "had no problems at all" and for a first time mother with no understanding of comparison, I can see it even more. I think a lot of times it is part a.) comparing them to that awfully sick 24 weeker two isolettes over who came in at 1.2 pounds, and b.) desperately wanting to think positive and believe there are no lasting problems from their early emergence into the world.

People asked if my twins had any problems. I said, "nope they were healthy!" or "Just a little early!" or "Fortunately they did just great!"

They were 31+2 weeks and were in the NICU a month. But to me, their CT scans were negative and they didn't get NEC and eventually they got to nurse and even though dd had CPAP it was room air and pretty soon they were in the feeder-grower room of the NICU and I got to pretend like we were just normal folks. Sure nursing was impossible at first but we got it eventually (even though my supply never was what it needed to be without pumping, which I did for 6 months

But I saw scary early in the NICU and my twins, while premature, were not scary early. I never worried they were going to die. So that was my benchmark for responding to the "were they okay?" questions: were they ever at death's door.

It was not until my third child was born full term that I got it. Wow. What a difference an alert and vigorous and coordinated and fully cooked baby makes.

Still, when I am asked that question about the twins, I still don't answer that question very honestly. It's just too hard.

I'm not saying it's not possible and it may be your sister's baby is truly an exception, but I'd be willing to bet money that 99% of 35.5 weekers did have problems. Never were able to nurse exclusively for example. Mothers never established a good milk supply. Oral aversions. Reflux. That sort of thing, at a minimum.
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#70 of 120 Old 02-20-2008, 12:57 AM
 
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I've never known there to be a distinction between the 2 terms. Now I'm confused. DS was born at 35+5. He was 6#7oz (BIG!) but definitely a little undercooked: no suck reflex, very jaundiced (until his EDD), and so sleepy my friends joke they didn't see him awake until he was almost 3 months old! We had major nursing issues, but I'm stubborn and we got through it. He didn't start waking for feedings until he would have been 40 weeks. When asked (and at this point that doesn't happen very often) I've always said he was a little premature. Because he didn't act like a full term baby. But I always counted my blessings that he was so big and healthy and didn't have major prematurity issues.

I get the impression that a lot of the moms with early or sick preemies on this thread seem to be saying that a baby is not premature unless s/he needed major NICU care: oxygen, feeding tubes, etc. So, I don't know what to think. DS was definitely a little undercooked. But he was doing a lot better than the 28-weeker that our friends had.

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#71 of 120 Old 02-20-2008, 01:38 AM
 
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no, I mean I observed her and she was perfect. no breathing issues, no floppiness, no trouble nursing, no nothing. She really WAS just fine. Likely because my sister had been in PTL since 25 weeks and the stress had matured her in time. Nonetheless, she really had no problems.

I feel plenty adequate to evaluate, since I had "real" preemies (34 week twins who were very immature and spent 2 and 3 weeks in the NICU). They had collapsed lungs, were on NG tubes, couldn't maintain body temp, etc. ie premature.
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#72 of 120 Old 02-20-2008, 01:59 AM
 
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Originally Posted by MonP'titBoudain View Post
I've never known there to be a distinction between the 2 terms. Now I'm confused. DS was born at 35+5. He was 6#7oz (BIG!) but definitely a little undercooked: no suck reflex, very jaundiced (until his EDD), and so sleepy my friends joke they didn't see him awake until he was almost 3 months old! We had major nursing issues, but I'm stubborn and we got through it. He didn't start waking for feedings until he would have been 40 weeks. When asked (and at this point that doesn't happen very often) I've always said he was a little premature. Because he didn't act like a full term baby. But I always counted my blessings that he was so big and healthy and didn't have major prematurity issues.

I get the impression that a lot of the moms with early or sick preemies on this thread seem to be saying that a baby is not premature unless s/he needed major NICU care: oxygen, feeding tubes, etc. So, I don't know what to think. DS was definitely a little undercooked. But he was doing a lot better than the 28-weeker that our friends had.
ITA with everything you wrote, including the grey area between premature and a little undercooked.

I also found with my twins that they didn't nurse well enough to take a full day's worth of milk at the breast with no SNS until 2 weeks past my due date. Very interesting.

As for NatureMama3's sister, I think that sounds great but I don't know... maybe she was off on her dates, kwim? A week or two makes a huge difference. Or whatever I'll just say yay great maybe that baby was the one in a thousand. I think the important thing here to note is that while one anecdote of a 35.5 weeker being TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY full term and vigorous and a fantastic nurser etc is nice, it is hardly representative. 35 weekers are often undercooked and yes even fully premature.
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#73 of 120 Old 02-20-2008, 02:32 AM
 
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oh I agree, at 35 weeks I wouldn't expect full normalcy. I'd expect there could be reflux, nursing issues, etc. But I still wouldn't call a 36 weeker a preemie.

She wasn't off on dates. But preterm labor can speed up maturation (just like the steroid shots do--it's natural steroids). She's a radiologic technician and they watched that baby so often. It was always true to date.
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#74 of 120 Old 02-20-2008, 02:09 PM
 
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My son was 34 weeks and was in the NICU. I definitely say he was premature. My second DD was 36 weeks and she had some problems but wasn't in the NICU. I say that she was a month early, not that she was premature. She had some trouble breathing at birth, she had really low blood sugar, she was jaundiced and it was sheer hell to get her to wake up to nurse for weeks! I would strip her down, keep an ice pack next to me on which I'd place a wet wash cloth and then put it on her and it still wouldn't wake her up! My first DD was my only full-term baby (she was 39 weeks 5 days) and let me tell you it DOES make a big difference!

As for long term effects my son was small for his age for quite awhile. He is now pretty average for size. He is 7 years old, 48 inches and 50.5 lbs. He also had chronic ear infections until we took him off dairy and he was about to be diagnosed asthmatic but we took him off wheat and it cleared it up. My second DD was further along in gestation than he was and she was much bigger size was (she was 8lbs 4oz. at 36 weeks!) but she has had more health problems than he has. She has severe food sensitivities and some full blown allergies. She was diagnosed with severe reflux at 2 months old (and not just that reflux where moms say it because their child spits up alot). She is 2 now and we don't have her on medication for the reflux anymore but we are starting to consider putting her back on it because she is having problems. So overall its hard to tell what the long term effects will be with a child born early.

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#75 of 120 Old 02-20-2008, 05:46 PM
 
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Question: When DO you start using adjusted dates, if you don't do it for all babies? I get why you wouldn't for a 39 weeker, but why not for a 36 weeker for example? Technically they are a month early, cooked or not.
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#76 of 120 Old 02-20-2008, 11:36 PM
 
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If I had to schedule a c-section at 38 weeks but my babies are usually born at 41 or 42 weeks, I wouldn't adjust the age in public of course but I would to myself add a few weeks when taking into account things like organizing sleep-wake rhythms and other things that are TOTALLY age of the brain related and do not appear earlier due to experience or socialization.

But in terms using adjusted age almost more than actual age and as a critical way to determine where a child is falling developmentally and on growth charts etc.... I'd say give or take...

34-36 weeks -- for ~6 months
30-34 weeks -- for ~18 months
Before 30 weeks -- until age 2 (or even longer for very early micro-preemies)

The thing is, they never actually "catch up." That is a myth. What happens is that the milestone ranges are so wide that just because your 32 weeker isn't walking at 15 months isn't really unusual and if they start walking at 18 months of age well it's certainly a little late but plenty of normal full term babies walk "late" too. The milestone ranges just start blending into one another.

I had 31+2 week preemies who had a shaky start (GERD, apnea-bradycardia, trouble BFing at first, etc) but no life-threatening issues, and their 6 month developmental assessment was totally normal (i.e., they were tracking at or ahead of where a 4 month old should be). Without question it mattered a lot (in terms of where they were developmentally) in their first year of life that they were born 2 months early. But I can also say that I could tell tiny differences up to 2 years and even a little beyond. Like when they learned to walk (15 months and 17 months -- dd didn't even pull up until her 1st birthday - again totally normal if she started pulling up at 10 months which was her corrected age but most 1 year-olds are definitely cruising (not all, but most)). And also when they hit the terrible two's lol (they were golden for longer than most tots and didn't even KNOW the word "no" until after their second birthday I swear to god - I mean they knew how to express what they wanted or didn't want of course, but it didn't turn into the famous NO! of toddlerhood until later than their same age peers). When ds grew out of his dairy sensitivity -- which was several months after his 2nd birthday whereas most kids who WILL outgrow it do it by their 2nd birthday. Also just subtle things wrt maturity were noticable (to me, not to anyone else) into their third year.
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#77 of 120 Old 02-20-2008, 11:50 PM
 
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I pretty much consider my 36 weeker to have been preterm or premature. She was breathing fine but weighed only 5 pounds 4 ounces, had jaundice, reflux, latching problems. I didn't really adjust her age for more than a month or two as she gained weight rapidly and then started acting like she was full term pretty quickly.

As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I was watched more carefully during my second pregnancy because of my first birth. It turned out that my second was 33 weeks, which I definitely consider premature. And like Periwinkle, I usually say that she was fine, no major problems or anything, with that same meaning that I never was worried that she might die.

I still don't see a lot of difference between the terms preterm and premature. As others have mentioned, they are used fairly interchangeably even by the medical community. It doesn't matter to me which terminology people use, as long as they aren't calling a 38 weeker premature, yk?
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#78 of 120 Old 02-21-2008, 09:51 AM
 
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I know the difference and it bugs me when people use them wrong. I had a premature baby. had she stayed in for a few more days even though I woulod have still not made it to my 35th week she would have been just fine . She was a great big strappin' thing - 19 1/4 inches and 5#11oz. HUge for a 34 weeker and had very mild problems (except for that eating thing).

it is like people are so enraptured with preemies an they go around wearing it like a badge of honor when there babies were only a week or two early and use thier adjusted age . . . it is weird for me. Itis like they think it makes thier baby extra special and dpecial in all the ways each baby is special just isn't good enough. They want them to be in the preemie club. If they only knew how much that club sucked to belong to.
Being the parent of a 34weeker and a 33weeker who WERE premature, I sympathize. I couldn't have posted this better myself. You are straight on. This little club SUCKS to belong to. I would have traded our preemie outfits and nicu weeks and spinal taps and iv's and constant handwashing and synagis vaccines and ng tubes and TPN and antibiotics and big plastic isolettes and apnea monitors for another few weeks in utero. Both my babies truly WERE premature. Both stayed 2 weeks each, one came home on an apnea monitor and the other came home weighing less than 5lbs and having special dietary needs. It drives me MAD when people talk about their "preemie" born at 36 or 37 weeks weighing 6 or 7 or even 8lbs and needing only a few days of nicu time for monitoring. I can't even imagine what the mamas of our little micro miracles think. Spending months in the nicu and having to deal with being vented and having multiple surgeries and meds and then hearing people complain about their week or two in. I cannot even fathom. I am traumatized from our stays so I tip my mama hat to those parents.
What gets me the worst is people telling me that having a 33 or 34 weeker wasn't "too bad." And my 4 and 5lbers were "a good weight." And about their cousin's sister's nephew's dog's aunt's kid was born at 1lb and is "just fine" today 3 years later.:

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#79 of 120 Old 02-21-2008, 11:02 AM
 
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I get the impression that a lot of the moms with early or sick preemies on this thread seem to be saying that a baby is not premature unless s/he needed major NICU care: oxygen, feeding tubes, etc. So, I don't know what to think.

This illustrates my earlier point. So, my 40 weeker was "premature" because he needed major NICU care - due to an injury?: Whether a baby is in the NICU with all kinds of tubes and testing is not the point. Special needs babies go to the NICU even if they are born on their due dates. There are all kinds of reasons that a baby needs extra care; extra care, in an of itself, does not make the difference.
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#80 of 120 Old 02-21-2008, 11:57 AM
 
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I really don't think that anyone is trying to say that NICU care is only for preterm/premature babies.

My point was that there are varying degrees of prematurity: that some (most?) preterm babies are born before they are fully developped but the issues they have may not land them in the NICU or be life-threatening. But they are still obviously under-developped.

I don't say that to negate the experiences of parents with very sick babies. I cannot imagine the stress that brings (regardless of whether it occurs after 40 weeks gestation or 26 weeks of gestation). I wouldn't wish that on any parent or any child.

me, wife to dh, the movie geek (7/01), mama to ds1, budding Star Wars geek (10/05), dd, budding princess of the dirt (03/08) and ds2, budding extrovert. watch out! (8/10).
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#81 of 120 Old 02-21-2008, 12:02 PM
 
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I never realized there was a distinction, either. My second was a 33-weeker with absolutely no problems, miraculously enough. We stayed two days for observation, but he was 5 pounds even (large for his gestational age, which we knew to be spot-on) and breathed and nursed beautifully from the get-go. (I was able to get steriod shots for his lungs before he was born.) So I guess by the terminology given here, he was preterm but not premature.

When relevant I usually refer to him as my 33-weeker, but also sometimes as a preemie. I had no idea I might be offending people whose children (whether born earlier or later than mine) had difficulties after the birth.

Of course, the terminology makes perfect sense. Preterm = before 40 weeks. Premature = before fully formed.
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#82 of 120 Old 02-21-2008, 12:23 PM
 
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Wow. Our hospital which has a nationally recognized level 1 NICU had a policy that babies were not allowed to be discharged until 35 weeks. And they had to clear a lot of other hurdles (gaining well, holding their temps, no A's and B's, etc.) of course, but one of those hurdles was passing the 35 week mark. Anyway, I know different policies are different but allowing a mother to bring home a 33 weeker is definitely not the norm. Just wanted to clarify that in case other people are reading and -- as they often seem to do much to my dismay -- think that it's normal for 33 weekers to be totally and completely fine.

Re: weight....

This has ALWAYS bugged me. It does and it doesn't matter how much your baby weighs. Mine were "a great weight" for 31+2 weeks weighing in at 4 and 4.5 lbs. So the F what, kwim? They were TWO MONTHS early!! Have you ever seen a 4 lb. baby? They look tiny and frail no matter that they are a good pound or even two more than others born at their gestation, they still weigh half what a full term baby does. And, hello... has anyone heard of gestational diabetes, lol... it's not always a good thing when a 36 weeker weighs 8 lbs. : And it most certainly does not mean they were ready to be born! My full-term son (child #3 where I carried him in a healthy pregnancy to full term) was 10 lbs. 9 ounces at nearly 40 weeks. The boy was a giant. He was thought to be around 7 lbs. at 35 weeks, 8 or 9 at 37 weeks. He could have been born at 37 weeks weighing 9 lbs. and everyone would have said "oh you just cook them fast!" and other stuff like that but no way in heck would I have wanted him born almost 3 weeks earlier than he was! He was vigorous and robust and nursed like a champ from day one. Oh what a difference a week (or few) makes.
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#83 of 120 Old 02-21-2008, 12:37 PM
 
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Wow. Our hospital which has a nationally recognized level 1 NICU had a policy that babies were not allowed to be discharged until 35 weeks. ... Anyway, I know different policies are different but allowing a mother to bring home a 33 weeker is definitely not the norm. Just wanted to clarify that in case other people are reading and -- as they often seem to do much to my dismay -- think that it's normal for 33 weekers to be totally and completely fine.
We definitely didn't and don't think our situation was the norm -- we were, and nine years later still are, amazed and intensely grateful that we were so lucky. No idea why, either; my dates were accurate.

We're about to have another preterm (but hopefully not premature!) baby due to vasa previa. Hopefully we make it to a scheduled c-section at 36 weeks. But if we have to have an emergency section before then, we already know that hospital policy will require him to stay until 36 weeks however healthy he may be. So we really were lucky with our second that the hospital let him come home with us.

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Re: weight....

This has ALWAYS bugged me. It does and it doesn't matter how much your baby weighs. Mine were "a great weight" for 31+2 weeks weighing in at 4 and 4.5 lbs. So the F what, kwim? They were TWO MONTHS early!! Have you ever seen a 4 lb. baby? They look tiny and frail no matter that they are a good pound or even two more than others born at their gestation
No argument from me on this. In our case his larger-than-average weight was signifcant because he was just over the cutoff weight for the NICU. That meant (since he miraculously had no other problems) he could room in with me. He certainly wasn't large by any other criterion! He seemed so tiny and wore preemie clothes the first couple of months. On his due date (he was 7 weeks old then) he still looked like a newborn and slept like one, too.

By the way, none of the wonderful amazingness of his being so healthy at 33 weeks erases the sheer terror and horror of the week that led up to his birth, including the moment where they told me I had to have a blood transfusion because if I ended up needing an emergency c-section I'd die otherwise. And however healthy this current baby turns out to be despite his preterm birth, I've been in terror and will continue to be on pins and needles every waking moment (and many sleeping ones) until this vasa previa nightmare is over.

So if "trauma suffered" is part of what is upsetting mothers of premature babies (who needed NICU help) when mothers of preterm babies use the word for themselves, well, many of us mothers of miraculously healthy but VERY preterm babies have been through h*ll, too. I, for one, don't feel like part of a n elite club when I say "premie". I just feel like a very lucky mother of an infant born far too early.
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#84 of 120 Old 02-21-2008, 01:49 PM
 
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You summed up my feelings exactly. It's not a fun "club" to be in at all and I've never understood the desire to be part of it.

Anyway, good luck with this one! :

One random thought re: trauma to mothers from this... mamas of 42 weekers who are in the NICU for 2 weeks.... that could almost be worse, kwim? No one expects their 8 lb. 42 weeker to be sickly and clinging to life after a flawless pregnancy and easy delivery. When you are pregnant with twins and then have preterm labor, at least being in the NICU is something I pretty much expected.. as much as I didn't want it to happen I had read all about it and was prepared for it.
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#85 of 120 Old 02-21-2008, 02:04 PM
 
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You summed up my feelings exactly. It's not a fun "club" to be in at all and I've never understood the desire to be part of it.

Anyway, good luck with this one! :
Thanks!

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One random thought re: trauma to mothers from this... mamas of 42 weekers who are in the NICU for 2 weeks.... that could almost be worse, kwim? No one expects their 8 lb. 42 weeker to be sickly and clinging to life after a flawless pregnancy and easy delivery.
So true! We're actually really lucky we're going to have a 36-weeker via scheduled c-section (bah!): undiagnosed vasa previa usually (56 to 95% of the time, depending on whose statistics you use) leads to an uneventful pregnancy with labor at term that ends tragically in the death of a perfectly healthy baby. And that has got to be the hardest thing of all to experience.
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#86 of 120 Old 02-21-2008, 02:11 PM
 
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I've met several babies who were introduced to me as "preemies" or "premature" babes who were just preterm. This irritates me something fierce! These babies had no breathing difficulties, they weren't sick, they didn't have trouble nursing... they were small but they weren't outside of the range of average, even. The last one I met weighed 6 lbs, 12 oz upon birth at 37 weeks.

My son was born at 37 weeks, and he *did* spend a week in NICU, but he wasn't premature, just preterm. A friend of mine had a baby at 34 weeks who was over 9 pounds at birth and who *was* premature.

Preterm= born before the end of week 37.
Premature=born before their oragans are sufficiently developed.

The vast majority of premature babies are preterm, but most preterm babies aren't premature! It drives me crazy when people mix these up, it seems like a deliberate attempt to make their babies out to be sick or tiny or something. :
I know that annoys me so much! I was a 33 weeker who spent 6 weeks in the NICU and had loads of problems and people are always telling me about the their preemies and when I say "oh what problems did they have?" and they said "none just small and early" and I say "oh they weren't premature then! just preterm that's great!" and they say "OH NO...they were VERY premature!"

Jami (25) Roland (27) & Caleb (5), Jacob (3.5) , Kaitlyn (2)
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#87 of 120 Old 02-26-2008, 11:42 AM
 
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me and my twin were born at 35 weeks viaa emergancy c section breech with me and my tiwns cords wrapepd tightly around my neck i was in severe fetal distress and wasnt breathing and had no heartbeat when iwas born iwas recusitated and spent another 5 weeks in hospital in the nICU i have mild to moderate cerebal palsy scoliosis and other health related issues that stemm from my birth my drs consider me premature i weighed 5lbs 4 but dropped to like 4lbs after birth i also nearly died when iwas 11 months old of premounia i spent another month im hospital on a vent then i went home for my first birthday according to my mum i was tube fed for months because i couldnt breastfeed etc
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#88 of 120 Old 05-26-2008, 04:22 PM
 
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This extremly erks me as well! My daughter was what they call a mircro preemie born at just 25 weeks and weighed 1lb 10oz. She was so early that the doctors gave her just a 40% chance of survival and said that if she did surive she would on have a 60% chance of "being normal"We spent over 100 days in the NICU. She was ventilated for 2 months and received a couple blood transfusions and had tons of apneas, and had ROP in her eyes that could've lead to her being blind. Her eyes were still fused shut when she was born and I couldnt even hold my baby for for almost 2 weeks! Thats what a preemie is! Not a baby thats just small and has to stay there for a week to make sure she/he gains a little bit of weight! I hated heaing parents go on about how they finally get to bring there baby home after a week or two. I would've gave anything to have brought my daughter home after a freakin week!!!
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#89 of 120 Old 05-27-2008, 11:05 AM
 
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That drives me insane as well. My DD was born at 36 wks, and stayed a week in the NICU a week for breathing trouble, and sugar problems. I NEVER refer to her as premature or preterm, she was just about term. I have friends who introduce their kids as preemies who were born later than DD and didn't have a NICU stay at all.

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#90 of 120 Old 05-27-2008, 11:31 AM
 
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I've been trying to think how I want to respond to this thread (again) and I finally think I can try to say it and hopefully won't offend anyone. I keep reading these posts that make it sound as if the prematurity or illness of their baby is like a *contest*. It makes me sad to read that some people feel that it only really counts if your baby was in the NICU for a certain length of time, was very ill, was a certain gestational age, or weighed less than a certain amount.

We all know that there are babies who do great at 34 weeks, at 36 weeks. And babies who don't. There are amazing micropreemies who are born at 26 weeks and eventually come home happy and healthy. And babies born at full term that don't.

Every single mama who has a baby born with a problem feels like that problem is huge. To her, that is the worst experience of her life. Her one day in the NICU may seem insignificant if you've been there 3 weeks, or months, but it is still painful to her. I understand that it can't be compared to the experience of having a teeny tiny baby or a very ill baby that is hospitalized for months. But does it need to be compared? Can we not, as mothers, and especially as mothers who have suffered the prematurity of our own babes, not just support another mother going through a rough time without pointing fingers and saying, "she didn't have it as rough as I did"?

Even those babies that are near term can have problems with weight gain, jaundice, feeding, reflux, and other things that can be concerning. To the brand new mom struggling with breastfeeding while her baby's pediatrician warns about failure to thrive, these are big problems too. This is still a mom that needs to be helped and supported, not told that she isn't allowed to use the term premature to describe her baby because he wasn't early enough.

I understand the annoyance at people who have perfectly healthy full-term babies calling them preterm or premature or whatever because they think it sounds cute or something. But whatever. Eventually they will have a conversation with someone who will look at them in disbelief when they describe their 39 weeker as a "preemie" and maybe it will start to sink in.

I don't know, it is just getting to me how much this thread has dissolved into a mommy war over who is allowed to call her baby a preemie and who isn't. I know that there is a mom here who has a daughter that was born at 25 weeks and spent months in the hospital and she tells people on the NICU forum that any time in the NICU "counts." It is still a terrible experience for the parent, no matter how long it lasts.
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