Babies born at 34 weeks are in what’s known as “late preterm” territory.
If your baby’s born at 34 weeks, it means that, yes, they’re early, but they’re generally a lot more self-sufficient than babies born earlier than 34 weeks.
Having said that, they’re still a few weeks off being completely “ready” for birth, so it’s normal if your baby needs some extra medical help in the beginning.
What is there to know about having a baby at 34 weeks?
As with newborns of any term, there’s a wide range of “normal” behaviors and abilities.
If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to ask your medical team - they’re there to help you!
Meanwhile, here’s a quick guide to what happens if baby is born at 34 weeks.
In this article 📝
- What does a baby born at 34 weeks look like?
- Do babies born at 34 weeks need NICU?
- Will a baby born at 34 weeks be OK?
- Can babies born at 34 weeks breathe on their own?
What does a baby born at 34 weeks look like?
If you search babies born at 34 weeks pictures, you’ll see they look pretty much like a full-term baby!
They’ll probably weigh around 5-5.25 pounds, so they’ll be smaller and more delicate than a 40-weeker, but their skin tone and external appearances will be pretty much the perfect cherub you were picturing.
A baby at 34 weeks will be more interested in seeing the world around them than babies born earlier.
They will go through more alert periods with their eyes open, and they’ll be able to focus on objects close to them, but they’ll also be easily overwhelmed.
A cough, sneeze, or even a hiccup can be a sign they’re ready for some more rest.
Do babies born at 34 weeks need NICU?
The length of your hospital stay and NICU admission will be dependent on various things, but in all likelihood, your baby born at 34 weeks will need a week or two of intensive care treatment.
While in the NICU, a baby born at 34 weeks will probably stay in a heated incubator to help keep them warm while their vitals are being monitored.
Things like their birth weight can have an impact on your baby’s overall health at this age, so making sure they can feed well and gain weight is a priority.
At this age, your baby might manage to feed at the breast a couple of times a day, if you choose to breastfeed.
But the suck/swallow/breathe reflex is often the most difficult to master for preterm babies, so be patient.
Your medical team will ensure your baby is getting enough nutrition, and they can give you advice on how to pump or express milk to help establish your supply.
Will a baby born at 34 weeks be OK?
From 34 weeks, babies born early have the same chances of survival as babies born at full term.
In one study, the baby born at 34 weeks survival rate was 100% (and was the same for all subsequent weeks of gestation) and almost half of babies born at 34 weeks showed no major short or long-term complications to being birthed early.
Can babies born at 34 weeks breathe on their own?
Some babies will be able to breathe independently, but most will still require a bit of help, either in the form of a respirator, supplementary oxygen, or treatment with a surfactant to help the lungs inflate.
Are babies’ lungs developed at 34 weeks?
No, the lungs are still not fully developed, which is why most babies born at 34 weeks will require some assistance to breathe.
Babies born at 34 weeks can have other difficulties, like low blood pressure, low blood sugar, jaundice, problems with their digestive tract, and heart.
The good thing is, your NICU doctors and nurses are experts in these issues and know just how to keep your newborn healthy.
The important thing is to be patient and remember that you’re doing a great job, mama!
You might also be interested in:
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