Ready or not, here they come!
If your babe couldn’t wait to meet you, you might have a 32-week preemie on your hands.
Here’s all you need to know about a baby born at 32 weeks, from hospital stays to weight, care, and cuddles.
A baby born at 32 weeks will only weigh about half that of an average full-term baby.
They may need help breathing, feeding, and keeping warm.
But what if it’s the real thing?
What if you’re actually giving birth at 32 weeks?
Going into labor unexpectedly and having a baby at 32 weeks can be a stressful start to life with your new little one.
But it’s good to know that the care of preterm babies is improving all the time, and the help your baby receives will give them the best start in life.
The conditions of babies born at 32 weeks can vary massively, and your experience will probably be different from others in the same situation.
So how do you know what to expect with a 32-week preemie?
The good news is that the odds are in yours (and baby’s) favor, so the likelihood of having a healthy baby born at 32 weeks is very high.
Here’s a guide just for you.
In this article 📝
- What does a baby at 32 weeks look like?
- What happens if a baby is born at 32 weeks?
- What happens when twins are born at 32 weeks?
- Do babies born at 32 weeks need NICU?
- What are the chances of survival for a baby born at 32 weeks?
- Will a baby be OK born at 32 weeks?
- Are babies fully developed at 32 weeks?
- Babies born at 32 weeks stories
What does a baby at 32 weeks look like?
A baby born at 32 weeks is very preterm and will be much smaller than a baby born at 40 weeks.
Their skin will likely be opaque by this point, but their muscle and fat will be underdeveloped, so their limbs will be particularly skinny-looking.
They’ll basically look like a smaller version of a full-term baby, so making sure they get the nutrients they need to gain weight is very important from the start.
So, more often than not, you’ll likely have a healthy baby born at 32 weeks.
What happens if a baby is born at 32 weeks?
If your baby’s making moves for their grand appearance at 32 weeks, first, try not to panic.
Babies born at 32 weeks have a very good chance of a healthy birth and healthy development ‒ it may just take a little longer for the latter.
So if you’re worried about an early delivery at 32 weeks, the odds are still in your favor.
Baby born at 32 weeks: how long in hospital?
You might be wondering how long the hospital stay is for a newborn born at 32 weeks.
The annoying answer is that the length of time will vary from baby to baby, so it’s hard to say.
The doctors will be looking for your 32-week preemie to be able to breathe, feed, and keep warm without medical intervention before you’re discharged.
This may be a few weeks, or even months, if they face other complications.
Do babies born at 32 weeks need oxygen?
Some of the time, yes.
While some babies born at 32 weeks can breathe on their own, others might require supplemental oxygen or even intubation.
So while your 32-week preemie might not need to be hooked up to an oxygen tank all the time, they might need a little help breathing every now and then.
Is 32 weeks pregnant considered full-term?
No, at 32 weeks, baby is considered preterm.
Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Preterm: Baby born before 34 weeks
- Late preterm: Baby born from 34 weeks to 37 weeks
- Early term: Baby born from 37 weeks to 39 weeks
- Full-term: Baby born from 39 weeks to 42 weeks
- Post-term: Baby born after 42 weeks
Is 32 weeks premature?
Yes, a baby born at 32 weeks is considered premature.
“Premature” or “preemie” is the blanket term used to describe a baby born from 36 weeks and 6 days or less.
How much should a baby weigh at 32 weeks?
The average 32-week baby weight is around 4lbs, and they’ll likely double their weight by the time they reach their original due date.
Not bad for 8 weeks’ worth of growing!
What happens when twins are born at 32 weeks?
While the average week of birth for twins is about 36 weeks, it’s certainly not unheard of to see twins born at 32 weeks.
How long do twins born at 32 weeks stay in the NICU?
If you have twins born at 32 weeks, they’ll likely spend about the same amount of time in the NICU as single babies.
So anywhere from a couple of weeks to even a couple of months, if there are other complications.
Is 32 weeks full-term for twins?
No, twins born at 32 weeks are not considered a full-term pregnancy.
Twins (or other pregnancies with multiples) have the same definitions of premature, full-term, or late-term births.
So if you have twins born at 32 weeks, they’re considered preterm.
What percentage of twins are born before 32 weeks?
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), about 19% of twins are born before 34 weeks.
And about 60% of twin pregnancies are born before 37 weeks.
So if you’re expecting multiples, there’s about a 50/50 chance they could be born prematurely, so make sure your hospital bags are packed!
Do babies born at 32 weeks need NICU?
Yes, the majority of babies born at 32 weeks will have to spend some time in NICU.
Most babies born at 32 weeks will likely require at least supplementary oxygen to help them breathe, although this may be for a shorter amount of time than babies born earlier.
Their feeding reflex will be weak, and they may need help getting nutrition.
They will also probably need help to keep warm as their ability to regulate their body temperature hasn’t matured yet, and their lack of fat stores means it’s easy for them to get cold.
So, they’ll probably spend time in an incubator in NICU until they can regulate their temperature, while their breathing is also carefully monitored.
They’ll also be observed for things like jaundice (due to immature liver function) and low blood sugar levels.
What are the chances of survival for a baby born at 32 weeks?
It’s a scary thought, but you’re not alone in wondering: can a baby survive at 32 weeks?
The good news is that the 32-week survival rate is actually pretty high.
Research suggests that the survival rate for a baby born at 32 weeks is around 99.5%.
Although they’ll still be little, with a lot more growing to do in a short amount of time, a 32-week-old baby has done a lot of the important stuff inside you already.
Will a baby be OK born at 32 weeks?
So, is it safe to deliver at 32 weeks?
Generally speaking, if there are no other underlying conditions, yes, a baby born at 32 weeks will be okay.
The long-term prognosis for babies born at 32 weeks is that the vast majority will go on to live “healthy and normal” lives.
If there are no underlying health issues, a baby born at 32 weeks may only need specialist help for a short period.
However, each case is different so be sure to discuss possible outcomes with your healthcare team.
Are babies fully developed at 32 weeks?
So what’s going on inside them?
Are babies’ lungs developed at 32 weeks?
Well, all of the major organs will be fully functioning — except the lungs and brain.
These two are just so complex, and every week of pregnancy really counts toward their development.
So baby may need some help breathing and doing coordinated things like sucking to feed.
At eight weeks premature, there’s still work to do.
This is why it’s very likely your little one will need extra medical care in these first few precious weeks.
Can babies born at 32 weeks breathe on their own?
Sometimes, yes, but sometimes not.
Babies’ lungs are generally fully developed at about 36 weeks, so they may need a bit of help when it comes to breathing.
It can be scary seeing your baby in NICU with a breathing apparatus, but know that it’s just until they can breathe on their own.
Babies born at 32 weeks stories
If you’re worried about giving birth at 32 weeks or you’re watching over your 32-week preemie in the NICU, you’re not alone.
Here are real-life stories from moms like you who have been there:
- “Woke up around 7 am on October 30th to my water breaking at 32 weeks pregnant, and welcomed my twin girls that same afternoon at 2:58 and 2:59 PM after going into active labor with all attempts to stop the laboring. Was finally able to see them this morning around 1 am. Baby A came in at 3 pounds 11 ounces. Baby B came in at 3 pounds 5 ounces.” ‒ Taylor
- “So after a hectic few weeks of illness, our beautiful baby boy has arrived early. I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, experienced a vaginal bleed, had my waters go prematurely, and developed probable sepsis. After becoming very unwell very quickly, the decision was made to deliver baby by emergency C-section on 1.12.2021 at 11.52 am. He came into the world screaming and was whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit. He was 3lb 13oz. I was very unwell so couldn’t see him for a few days which almost killed me but I can now visit him as much as I like in the NICU. He’s likely to be there for a while and possibly up to his original due date of 26.01.22 but all in all, is doing well. He’s doing everything expected of a 32-week-old and just needs help to maintain his temperature, feeding, and breathing whilst he grows. He’s on full milk already which is a good sign. We love him so much 🥰 and whilst it’s going to be hard having him in the NICU so long we are just so relieved that he is here safe.” ‒ Tina
- “My brother was born at 32 weeks and was 4lb 3oz and home within 3 weeks.” ‒ Lauren
- “Not me but my sister had my nephew at 32 weeks. She went into spontaneous labor, he was born at 3lb and only had to spend 4 weeks in NICU. He is now an absolutely amazing 8-year-old, and other than being a little smaller than some 8-year-olds, you would have no idea he was a preemie!” ‒ Holly
- “Niece was born at 32+1 weeks around 3 months ago. Was home within 12 days. All was well.” ‒ Renae
- “My first baby had to be delivered via C-section bang on 32 weeks due to restricted growth and severe preeclampsia. He weighed 3lbs 4oz and did really well in NICU he was born 21st November and was discharged 26 December.” ‒ Leah
- “I went to my OB for a non-stress test on Thursday 09/30 to check baby’s heart rate, they saw a few dips in his heart rate and sent me straight to the hospital, I stopped by my house to grab my hospital bags, said bye to my husband and 4-year-old son and then made my way to the hospital. His heart rate with the non-stress test at the hospital wasn’t dipping like at the doc’s but it wasn’t giving them the results they liked to see, I did an ultrasound and baby scored 8/8 but they still wanted me to spend the night just to keep monitoring his heart rate and do another ultrasound in the morning. Overnight he had a few dips and for the ultrasound, in the morning his score dropped to 4/8 and he didn’t have much movement. Doctors decided I wouldn’t leave the hospital until baby is delivered… They monitored baby overnight and decided to induce me and have baby in the morning. I can either be induced and go through labor but the contractions can put stress on baby due to his heart and if he can’t handle this then they’ll have to do an emergency C-section. Or they gave me the option to go straight for a C-section and not stress the baby. I went for the C-section since I didn’t want to go through labor pain and contraction pain for God knows how long and then stress baby and maybe end up doing an emergency C-section so then I’ll have to recover from two procedures. Baby was born on October 2, at only 32 weeks and 5 days! He’s doing good so far! They put me on 2 steroids shots the day before so that his lungs can get stronger before he was delivered. His heart rate seems fine now they haven’t given me any complications or anything to worry about they said he was fine!” ‒ Sarah
- “I had pain Tuesday night, in the morning, called doctor, went for a check-up, got complicated as the pain got too much and suddenly lots blood started, placenta detached from uterus… Had to go for an emergency C-section. We both are stable, baby is in NICU. I am totally in shock. Too much happened, too fast. Grateful that we are OK and got all the medical help on time. Not even bought anything for baby yet! My pregnancy was really good never had any issues. Feeling blue as baby will be in NICU for the next 4 weeks. So far he is doing well so proud of my little one.” ‒ Suchitra
- “She was supposed to come Aug 11th but came June 18th, my little 32-week survivor. I was so worried throughout my whole pregnancy I would have a miscarriage, as she is my 🌈 baby. I did research once she came and there weren’t many positive things popping up so the whole NICU journey was stressful. I was there every day and only went home on Fridays to fully shower and pack another week’s bag. I hope anyone who’s going through this makes it through as it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. I still cry (like now) because I’m just so happy she’s made it. That’s why I had to post this. Here on this app, there is a community of preemie moms and NICU moms that will make you feel like you’re not alone and you will actually have someone to understand your worries, situations, and stress. I’m so obsessed with her, I’m just like, ugh, I can’t even explain it I’m just blessed to have her.” ‒ Dai
While your baby born at 32 weeks is under the watchful eyes of their medical team, it’s an important time for you to take care of yourself too.
Having a baby in the NICU can take its toll emotionally and physically.
So remember to eat well, rest when you can, and talk to your loved ones (or even the preemie mamas of Peanut) if you’re struggling.
Wishing you and baby all the best, mama. 💕