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 have a baby born 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 healthy at 31 weeks?
- Is baby fully developed at 31 weeks?
What does a baby born at 31 weeks look like?
A baby born at 31 weeks gestation may look small and fragile, but they are strong and resilient fighters.
They’re roughly 15.5 inches long and 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.
Here are a few pictures of babies born at 31 weeks, so you know roughly what to expect:
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.
At 31 weeks, a baby’s major organs are developed, but they still have some growing and maturing to do before they are ready to go home from the hospital.
A baby born at 31 weeks may need help with breathing, feeding, and maintaining body temperature in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
They may also require medications and monitoring to prevent infections and manage any health complications that may arise.
It’s important to remember that every premature baby is unique, and their appearance and development may vary based on a variety of factors, such as their size, gestational age (even a few days can make a difference), and overall health.
While a premature birth can be challenging and stressful, there are many resources and support systems available to help families navigate this journey ‒ you’re not alone here, mama.
Is 31 weeks a micro-preemie?
Yes, 31 weeks is considered a “micro-preemie” or a “very preterm” baby.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a baby born before 37 completed weeks of gestation is considered preterm, and babies born before 32 weeks are classified as “very preterm” or “extremely preterm”.
Do babies born at 31 weeks need NICU?
Yes, babies born at 31 weeks gestation are 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 before 34 weeks gestation are at increased risk for complications such as respiratory distress syndrome, feeding difficulties, and infections, which may require medical intervention.
In the NICU, premature babies are closely monitored and receive specialized care to help them breathe, regulate their body temperature, and receive adequate nutrition.
They may also receive medications and treatments to prevent and manage infections and other health complications.
How long does a baby born at 31 weeks stay in NICU?
It’s hard to say, but a 31-week preemie could spend anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months in NICU, according to March of Dimes.
The length of a baby’s stay in the NICU will depend on a variety of factors, including their overall health and development.
But generally speaking, babies born at 31 weeks might be ready to go home after a month or so of specialized care.
Can a baby be born healthy at 31 weeks?
While a baby born at 31 weeks gestation may face some challenges, it is possible for them to be born healthy with proper medical care and support.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies born between 28 and 31 weeks of gestation are considered “very preterm” and have a higher risk of complications compared to full-term babies.
But with advances in neonatal care, the outcomes for 31-week preemies have improved in recent years.
Many 31-week preemies are able to receive specialized medical care and support in the NICU, which can help reduce the risk of complications and improve outcomes.
While the experience of having a baby born at 31 weeks can be overwhelming and emotional for families, there are many resources and support systems available to help parents and caregivers navigate this journey.
Or if you’re after someone to talk to who’s been there, there are lots of moms of preemie babies to chat with on Peanut.
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.
What is the survival rate of 31 weeks premature?
According to a large American study, the baby born at 31 weeks survival rate is around 99%, so baby’s chances are very good.
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.
Is baby fully developed at 31 weeks?
Yes and 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!