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how early is too early?

818 Views 14 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  mum2tori
I'm concerned about delivering early....I'm 34 weeks and know that my baby will most likely be ok at this time.
Do babies born this early or before 37 weeks have to stay in the NICU and do they have complications?
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I dont' have personall experiance with having early babies... mine were both 5 days late... but one of my best friends had her's at 34 weeks and 33 weeks and both of them had to stay in the NICU for a while i'm not really sure how long maybe a week or so...
When I was preg with my son, my midwives mentioned that all the hospitals in our area will keep a baby a few days if born before 37 weeks and they wouldn't do my homebirth if I went into labor before 37 weeks.
Too early is when the baby has trouble breathing, regulating it's temperature or feeding. That could be 32 weeks or 42 weeks. I have heard of babies going home at 34 weeks gestational age (after a week or two in the hospital after being born at 32) and I've heard of babies needing help breathing at 40 weeks.

Generally, babies born at 36 weeks are usually able to go home after a minimal amount of time.
I had dd at home at 36 weeks, 2 days. She weighed 5 lbs. 11 oz, had no breathing problems, latched on right away. 36 weeks is the cutoff for licensed midwives to attend homebirth in my state (AZ).
I had mine at 36 weeks and she was perfect. They just did some extra testing on her and was able to go home w/me in 2 days.
A good friend had her ds at 33 weeks + a few days... his lungs were developed so he only stayed in NICU one night and then they moved him to a transitional nursery for babies who seem Ok but need extra observation... he went home with his mama later that week.
I think they say the lungs are developed at 34 weeks as a general rule, but all babies are different.
It really depends on the baby. Why are you concerned about going early?
Totally depends on the kid!

My niece was born at 34w0d and came home the next morning (28 hours after birth).

My nephew was born at 35w4d and ended up being lifeflighted to a higher level NICU and was in the hospital for 2 weeks, extremely sick the whole time....


I had my first at 36 weeks, and she was small, but okay. She was 5 pounds 4 ounces, and very sleepy for the first week. She had to be awakened to eat, and had some trouble with her latch. But she was pink and screaming when she came out, and no breathing problems or anything like that. We spent 2 days in the hospital and then went home.
It just depends on the baby. I'm completely sure of when my baby was conceived, and he was born at 35 weeks 0 days and was basically fine. He weighed 6 lb 9 oz. He did have a bit of indrawing when he breathed (meaning his chest caved in as he inhaled), and keeping him warm was a HUGE undertaking, but he didn't go to the NICU at all. He went to the regular newborn nursery for observation after he was born to be hooked up to monitors, and he spent his first night in there because he needed someone who was awake to be watching him. But we went home together on the 3rd day, which is standard at that hospital for vaginal births.

BTW, most doctors agree that when a mom goes into labor on her own early without having a history of premature labor with that pregnancy, it's usually a very happy ending. It's when the baby has to be induced early or when the mom has been having contractions since early in her pregnancy that problems are more common.
Thanks for all the seems like it depends on the baby. But, at this point, she will most likely be ok. I guess I'm concerned because we are under a lot of stress and I worry about going into premature labor. Dh is looking for a new job and we are going to move in a couple, we have a 2 yr. old. Everything happens at once. But we feel blessed and excited to meet this little girl and know she will come at the right time.
I went into premature labor at 29 weeks with my first. They were able to stop labor, but we were able to spend time with some of the NICU Dr.s asking questions, just in case he did end up coming early. At the hospital we were at we were told that they would actively work to stop labor before 35 weeks. After that point, they no longer would, other than offering water and rest, etc. Baby would be automatically required to go to the NICU if he was born before 35 weeks, but at 35 weeks or later it completely depended on the baby's condition. There was also no minimum time that he would have had to stay in the NICU. They have three requirements for releasing them: 1) baby had to be nippling all his own feedings, 2) baby had to be holding his own temp, and 3) baby had to be breathing on his own. Other than that, we could go home as soon as we were ready. I am sure that not all hospitals have the same policy when it comes to newborns, but this was the hospital that handles the most premature babies in the state. I wouldn't worry too much about baby coming early. Try to take all the time you can to sit with your feet up and drink lots of water.
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"Most likely okay" and "need for a NICU stay" may well be two different things. Most 32-35 weekers do need at least some NICU time (most don't have the maturity to do the suck/swallow/breathe sequence when eating and need to get to that point before they can go home). But, the chances of any long term issues to deal with at that point just based on prematurity are pretty low.

Of course some babies born after 32 weeks have other problems (infections such as GBS, meconium aspiration, etc.) so that is a whole different picture.

Multiples usually have more developed lungs at an earlier age than singletons too. So a 30 week singleton is more likely to have worse breathing issues than a 30 week triplet.

I hope you can enjoy the end of your pregnancy with all this stress going on!
It is my understand that the final lung "development" happens between the 32-35 week mark. Most "mainstream" OBs and hospitals consider a baby "full term" after 36 weeks (there is the 2 week +/- issue
). And I agree that it is usually a case by case determination if an "early" baby needs to stay in the NICU. They might take her for a couple hours to observer her but if her Apgars are high, they might not take her at all. It all depends on her.

Try to not worry, that only increases your stress levels.
Keep your fluids up and try to rest as much as possible. That's really all you can do to try to avoid early labor at this point.
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