You’ve got nine whole weeks left on your pregnancy countdown, but baby didn’t get the memo?!
Almost no mama-to-be expects to give birth at 31 weeks, but it happens.
In some cases, mamas and their doctors are aware of certain risk factors for premature birth (like gestational diabetes or carrying multiples), so they can be a little more prepared and have the right care in place.
A premature birth can come as a surprise for most mamas, but there’s no need to freak out.
Babies born at 31 weeks will require specialized care, may not move much, and will sleep a lot to conserve their precious energy and keep growing.
Beyond that, what else should you expect?
Each baby born at 31 weeks will face their own challenges, but here’s a guide to what you might experience.
In this article 📝
- What does a baby born at 31 weeks look like?
- What happens if a baby is born at 31 weeks?
- Do babies born at 31 weeks need NICU?
- Can a baby be born at 31 weeks and be healthy?
- Can babies born at 31 weeks breathe on their own?
- Is baby fully developed at 31 weeks?
What does a baby born at 31 weeks look like?
A baby born at 31 weeks gestation weighs on average 3.3 pounds - that’s about half the weight of an average full-term baby.
They may be covered in that soft peach-fuzz hair called lanugo, but you’ll probably be able to see their veins under their thin skin due to a lack of body fat.
What happens if a baby is born at 31 weeks?
A baby born at 31 weeks will likely have the same issues as a baby born at 30 weeks, but their growth and development, and recovery from any surgery or illness, may be slightly faster.
They’ll need help, at least initially, to keep warm, so expect them to be placed into a heated incubator soon after birth.
Do babies born at 31 weeks need NICU?
A baby born at 31 weeks is still classed as very preterm, so they will need special medical attention in NICU while they finish perfecting all the bodily functions needed to survive in the outside world.
Babies born at 31 weeks might be ready to go home after a month or so of specialized care.
Can a baby be born at 31 weeks and be healthy?
So what are the chances of survival at 31 weeks pregnant?
According to a large American study, the baby born at 31 weeks survival rate is around 99%.
Being born at 31 weeks or after, it’s less likely that your baby will have any long-term issues with their growth or health than those born earlier.
Can babies born at 31 weeks breathe on their own?
Most babies born at 31 weeks will still require help breathing, to begin with, either by a ventilator or respirator, and they may be treated with a surfactant that coats the inside of their lungs and helps with lung inflation.
Is baby fully developed at 31 weeks?
Kind of yes, kind of no.
While they’ll look pretty much like a full-term newborn (only smaller), they won’t have the brain function to do all the things a full-term newborn can, and their immune and gastrointestinal systems are still immature, too.
The baby’s lungs might not be quite strong enough to work by themselves right away, and their brain may struggle to maintain a regular breathing pattern.
Alongside their breathing difficulties, they also may not have the sucking/swallowing process nailed down, so they’ll probably need a feeding tube to pass milk directly into their stomach.
Their body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure will all be closely monitored until they’re deemed strong enough to go home.
You have done an incredible job of carrying your baby for 31 weeks, mama.
Now you have the sometimes challenging, but always incredible, experience of meeting your baby a few weeks early and watching them grow in a way that most parents don’t get to see.
Preemie mamas, you’re awesome!
You might also be interested in:
Baby Born at 32 Weeks: What to Know
Baby Born at 33 Weeks: What to Know
Baby Born at 34 Weeks: What to Know
Baby Born at 35 Weeks: What to Know
Baby Born at 36 Weeks: What to Know
Baby Born at 37 Weeks: What to Know
Premature Babies: All You Need to Know
What to Look for in a Preemie Pacifier