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.
It can be normal to experience “practice” contractions or Braxton Hicks at 32 weeks.
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?
Here’s a guide just for you.
In this article 📝
- What does 32-week baby 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?
What does 32-week baby 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 as little as a few days, weeks, or even months, if they face other complications.
Is 32 weeks pregnant considered full-term?
No, at 32 weeks, baby is considered moderately preterm.
Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Extremely preterm: Baby born before 25 weeks
- Very preterm: Baby born from 26 weeks to 31 weeks and 6 days
- Moderately preterm: Baby born from 32 weeks to 33 weeks and 6 days
- Late preterm: Baby born from 34 weeks to 36 weeks and 6 days
- Full-term: Baby born from 37 weeks to 40 weeks and 6 days
- Late-term: Baby born from 41 weeks to 41 weeks and 6 days
- Post-term: Baby born from 42 weeks or after
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 does a 32-week preemie weigh?
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 few days, a couple of weeks, or 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 moderately preterm.
What percentage of twins are born before 32 weeks?
According to Child Magazine, about 15% of twins are born before 32 weeks.
And somewhere between 50-60% 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 baby born at 32 weeks survival rate 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.
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 towards 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.
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. 💕