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How premature is my baby?

Feb 7, 2024

The moment your baby arrives early, a whirlwind of emotions mixes with the joy of their arrival. “How premature is my baby?” is a natural question.

While understanding the degrees of prematurity can help navigate the path ahead, it is important to remember that every baby’s journey is unique.

The Spectrum of Prematurity

Prematurity is measured by gestational age, the weeks your baby spent inside mom before birth. Doctors use categories to understand potential challenges, but remember, these are just guides, not predictions.

  • Late preterm: Your baby is born between 34 and 36 completed weeks of pregnancy.
  • Moderately preterm: Your baby is born between 32 and 34 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Very preterm: Your baby is born at less than 32 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Extremely preterm: Your baby is born at or before 25 weeks of pregnancy.

Every Journey is Different

While these categories provide a framework, no two babies are the same. Even those born at the same gestational age can have vastly different experiences based on factors such as:

  • Birth weight: Bigger babies generally fare better.
  • Congenital conditions: Existing medical conditions can add challenges.
  • Response to treatment: Each baby responds differently to interventions.

Supporting Your Preterm Baby

  • Staying Informed: Talk with your baby’s healthcare team. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or express concerns.
  • Bonding Time: Even if your baby needs to stay in the NICU, there are ways to bond. Kangaroo care, or skin-to-skin contact, has been shown to benefit both babies and parents. Speak with the NICU staff about how and when you can hold your baby.
  • Seek Support: Connect with other parents of preemies, online or in person. Sharing experiences and advice can be comforting.
  • Focus on Individual Progress: Milestones, big or small, mark progress. Celebrate every milestone.

The Journey Ahead

The path with a preemie can be unpredictable.

While understanding the categories of prematurity can better navigate the challenges and joys that lie ahead, your journey may look different. And that is okay.

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