A Week by Week Premature Baby Guide- 29 Weeks through 31 Weeks Gestation

A quick peek at 29 weeks through 31 weeks gestation

Baby Jace- Born at 30 weeks gestation.

Twenty Nine Weeks (29)

Approximately 90-95% of babies born in the 29th week of pregnancy will survive. Babies born at this gestation will typically weigh about 1.1 kg. The 29 weeker has accumulated enough baby fat to account for nearly 3.5% of their overall body weight. They have started to shed their Lanugo, the fine hair that covers a preemie’s body.The eyes can now blink and respond to light and to dark.

Their retinas are still developing (making them at risk for retinopathy of prematurity) but their eyes can form images. Although the 29 weeker can hear your voice, loud noises are often too much for their underdeveloped neurological system, and they will startle easily. The bright lights may also be too much for them to handle, and they may tire easily. Keeping their space dimly lit will help them get the rest they need to learn and grow. By 29 weeks, premature babies are also starting to develop more coordinated sleep-wake cycles and are starting to have periods of REM sleep. They enjoy being swaddled, and nesting helps with feelings of security. The 29-week preemie’s stomach is still growing and maturing, and the intestines are beginning to mature. They will not be ready to nipple feed but allowing the preemie to suck on a pacifier while being fed will help develop the muscles necessary to eat when the time comes.

In addition to the noticeable outside maturity of a 29 weeker, the brain also goes through a period of rapid growth as well. Their brains are starting to look wrinkled and grooved, and are mature enough to begin to control their own body temperature. Premature babies born at 29 weeks gestation will still require long NICU stays but may not have some of the more complex medical issues that come with being born at an earlier gestation.

Thirty Weeks (30)

Babies born at 30 weeks gestation have a 90-95 percent chance of survival. Babies born at this gestation will typically weigh about 1.3 kg. Babies born at 30 will have some layers of subcutaneous brown fat and will be mature enough to begin to hold their own body temperature but will often still need a little help as they continue to grow. The eyes can now blink and respond to light and to dark. Their retinas are still developing (making them at risk for retinopathy of prematurity) but their eyes can form images. Although the 30 weeker can hear your voice, loud noises are often too much for their underdeveloped neurological system, and they will startle easily. When the 30 weeker gets overwhelmed or has had too much activity they may hiccup, sneeze, or even cry- these are outward signs of overstimulation. The bright lights may also be too much for them to handle, and they may tire easily. By 30 weeks, premature babies are also starting to develop more coordinated sleep-wake cycles and are starting to have periods of REM sleep.

At this stage, a preemie will be awake more, with alert periods lasting several minutes. However, they still will need a lot of sleep and thrive in a dark and quite environment. They are beginning to develop their suck but will not be ready to feed from a bottle or breast yet as they have not developed the coordination to suck, swallow, and breathe all at the same time. Pacifier use and  kangaroo care while being fed will help develop the patterns necessary for future feedings. Premature babies born at 30 weeks gestation will still require long NICU stays but may not have some of the more complex medical issues that come with being born at an earlier gestation.

Thirty Ones Weeks (31)

Approximately 90% of babies born in the 31st week of pregnancy will survive. Babies born at this gestation typically weigh about 1.5 kg. Babies born at 31 weeks are considered moderately premature.
Babies born at 31 will have some layers of subcutaneous brown fat, and their wrinkly skin looks more like that of a term baby. They are mature enough to begin to hold their own body temperature but may still need a little help as they continue to grow. Babies born at 31 weeks use all five of their senses to learn about their environments. Their eyesight is still developing, and they can form images- Faces are their favorite form of stimulation. The 31 weeker can also hear quite well and will recognize their parents voices. However, loud noises are often too much for their underdeveloped neurological system, and they may startle easily. When they become overwhelmed or have had too much activity they may hiccup, sneeze, or even cry- these are outward signs of overstimulation. By 32 weeks, premature babies are also starting to develop more coordinated sleep-wake cycles and are starting to have periods of REM sleep. They enjoy being swaddled, and nesting helps with feeling of security. At this stage, a preemie will be awake more, with alert periods lasting several minutes. However, they still will need a lot of sleep and thrive in a dark and quite environment. It’s important to keep in mind that the 31 weeker’s immune system is still not fully developed. Even though they may look like smaller versions of full-term babies, they will require special care and handling as their immune system matures and grows. They are beginning to develop their suck but will not be ready to feed from a bottle or breast yet as they have not developed the coordination to suck, swallow, and breathe all at the same time. Pacifier use and kangaroo care while being fed will help develop the patterns necessary for future feedings. All babies born at 31 weeks will require a NICU stay but may quickly catch up to their peers and may have few long term effects of prematurity.

Click here to continue to part four for 33-36 weeks gestation.

**The information provided in this series is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Keep in mind that this information is a general guideline. No two babies are alike, and no two NICU journeys are the same, and, for this reason, there may be variations in the timing, progression, and statistical information of each individual baby**

Sources:

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Growing Home- Preemie Developmental Care in the NICU. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.peekabooicu.net/2011/09/growing-home-preemie-developmental-care-in-the-nicu/

The Importance of Sleep and the Premature Baby. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.peekabooicu.net/2012/11/the-importance-of-sleep-and-the-premature-baby/

Level of NICU Quality of Developmental Care and Neurobehavioral Performance in Very Preterm Infants. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/5/e1129.full

The Profile of a Preemie: The Senses and Your Premature Baby. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.peekabooicu.net/2013/02/the-profile-of-a-preemie/

Premature Birth Statistics | Statistic Brain. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.statisticbrain.com/premature-birth-statistics/

Understanding Preemie Development: Meriter Health Services. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.meriter.com/services/newborn-intensive-care-unit/understanding-and-parenting-your-preemie/understanding-preemie-development

What can I do for my baby while in the NICU? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://preemies.about.com/od/Preemie-Parents/ss/Parenting-your-Preemie-in-the-Neonatal-Intensive-Care.htm

Your Preemie’s Special Language. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.peekabooicu.net/2014/05/your-preemies-special-language/

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