One thing is predictable about kids; they are unpredictable! Those little babies may prove this fact right off the bat; some of them unexpectedly arrive weeks before the due date. Babies who make early appearance will impose extra challenges for parents and, for example by showing a highly irregular sleeping pattern. These early birds may have many similar sleeping and feeding issues as other full term babies, but preterm need to play catch-up. Premature babies have a few health issues that can range from mild to critical, which can significantly affect your newborn’s sleeping quality. Fortunately, if you can keep your preterm baby healthy, they will eventually pass the nonstop wake-up phase. Obviously it is important for parent to have an insight on how to adjust their lives to meet their little birds’ requirements while keeping their sanity intact!
Stages of Premature Births
Normal babies born after 37 to 42 weeks, and any delivery before this period is considered as premature or preterm. (Beyond 42 weeks is called as postmature, a very rare condition these days)
About ten percent of babies are born early; obviously how early they come is the real issue here. This is a quick look on fetus development.
Prenatal growth happens dramatically in each semester:
• The first 12 weeks of pregnancy (first trimester): Organs start to from the fertilized egg.
• 12-36 weeks (second trimester): New organs start to function, For example, the heart that developed on first trimester, begins to beat.
• 27-40 weeks (third trimester): The baby stockpiles water, fat and nutrients for the real life outside the womb. All parts of the body are perfected, it allows the baby to maintain her temperature, breathe and drink, without outside helps.
Preterms babies haven’t completed their third-trimester changes, so it is important for them to continue growth outside the womb. Delivery is challenging for a baby and it is even harder for premature babies. These are stages of prematurity:
Severe prematurity (24-26 weeks)
This is the start of third trimester and many of her organs may not work at full capacity yet. Likely problems are:
• Critical breathing problems, which require high concentration of oxygen and ventilator support.
• High risks of infections.
• Brain hemorrhage.
Even if the baby has no complications, severe prematurity is still a serious medical challenge. The only thing health professionals can do is to ensure the baby continue its growth.
Moderately severe prematurity (27-29 weeks)
Although this is a better situation, at this stage the baby still has a big issue. Likely problems are:
• Brain hemorrhage.
• Infection risks.
• Breathing problems.
Moderate to mild prematurity (30-34 weeks)
After the 30th weeks, chances are the baby already has developed lungs and better immunity and he will get better each week: Developed lungs mean better overall health.
• Effective, calm and normal breathing can improve the effectiveness of the overall medical course.
• Normal lung functions reduce the risks of bleeding and infection significantly.
• When lung function normally, a preterm baby can devote valuable energy and efforts to proper growth.
Near term (35-36 weeks)
Although technically, the baby is still considered as premature, his mature lungs can make serious health problem unlikely. Even so, these are aims that need to be achieved:
• Breathing regularly with steady rhythm.
• Eating properly.
• Maintaining steady temperature.
Of course, serious illness can also affect full-term babies to a significant degree, but the longer the baby stay in the womb, health problem problems will be less likely to happen.
How Premature Babies Can Catch up?
If you’re freckled, left-handed or tall, those traits last forever, however being premature is just a temporary condition. In general, preterm babies may have serious, long-term health issues, if they are badly premature. But if the baby can catch up the skipped development steps, he will get better soon. Often 12 months after their due dates, premature babies will be just like any full-term babies.
If your baby seems to have serious medical problems (for example, immune system, brain and lung problems), he may need to spend some time in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Even preterm newborns without severe medical problems are often required to remain in the hospital until they are mature enough. After your tot is medically stable, her journey toward a real life is a long one.
If these three important goals are achieved, the baby will be ready for almost everything:
• To be safe at home, he first needs to master the skill of feeding from breast or bottle.
• He can keep a stable temperature. Keeping warm can be challenging, because preterm babies need to generate enough heat and keep it inside. These things can be difficult to achieve if prematurity enters the equation. A premature baby has thinner fat layer, which causes heat to escape more easily. A five pounds baby, on the other hand, is already well developed and sufficiently large to keep the heat inside.
• He can breathe without assistance. Lungs won’t sufficiently well until the third trimester and the brain can’t control breathing reliably until the 35th week. Lungs have late development inside the womb because mother provides enough oxygen for the baby.
There is also a risk that a premature baby can forget to breathe. A constant vigilance is needed and the immediate action should involve a few taps on the feet, a back rub or an oxygen supply, to get everything back on track. The baby is released from the hospital only after his lungs and brain can figure out the proper way of breathing. Some babies may still need breathing monitor and medications at home.