A baby born at 34 weeks is considered “late preterm”. Every baby’s different, but your 34-week preemie’s outlook is great.
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 happens if a baby is delivered at 34 weeks?
- What does a baby look like at 34 weeks?
- What about twins born at 34 weeks?
- Do babies born at 34 weeks need NICU time?
- Will a baby born at 34 weeks be OK?
- Do babies born at 34 weeks need oxygen?
What happens if a baby is delivered at 34 weeks?
If you’re in labor at 34 weeks or you’ve delivered and you’re looking over your 34-week preemie, you’re not alone, mama.
It can be scary, we know.
But the amazing thing is that your babe’s chances are very good.
Feel free to ask questions to your healthcare providers and midwives, they’re there to help, and your questions are always valid.
How common is labor at 34 weeks?
It’s tough to say ‒ while some moms-to-be may experience Braxton Hicks contractions (a sort of test drive before the big event), that’s not technically labor.
There aren’t any official figures for how many people go into labor at 34 weeks, but around 10% of pregnancies may be preterm ‒ that is, labor kicking in before 37 weeks.
So it’s not exactly common, but it’s not rare, either.
The good news is that, if you’re in that 10%, you’re not alone ‒ if you want to swap stories and experiences of preterm labor, there’s a whole community of mamas waiting for you.
What does a baby look like at 34 weeks?
If you search babies born at 34 weeks pictures, you’ll see they look pretty much like a full-term baby ‒ just a teeny version!
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.
How much does a 34 week fetus weigh?
A 34-week fetus tends to weigh anywhere from 5 to 5.25 pounds (that’s roughly 2.2 to 2.4 kgs).
Considering most newborns that arrive between 37 and 40 weeks weigh anywhere from 5 pounds, 2 ounces to 8 pounds, 13 ounces, they’re not too far off at 34 weeks.
What about twins born at 34 weeks?
Well, twins (and any multiples) are more likely to be born premature than single babies.
According to one long-term study, most twins are born between 37 and 38 weeks, although 34 weeks isn’t unheard of.
Do babies born at 34 weeks need NICU time?
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.
Can a baby born at 34 weeks go home?
While most babies born at 34 weeks will likely have to stay in the NICU for a week or two, there is a chance they can come home sooner.
But your (very) little one should be able to come home soon, mama.
The hospital stay is more likely to be a precaution to help them finish developing.
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.
Do babies born at 34 weeks need oxygen?
Yes ‒ some babies will be able to breathe independently, but most will still require a bit of help.
This will be 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, not quite.
Baby’s 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.
It can be nerve-wracking going into labor and having a baby born at 34 weeks, but you can rest assured that baby’s chances of staying happy and healthy are good.
The important thing is to be patient and remember that you’re doing a great job, mama!
And you’re not alone, either.
If you want to talk with other moms who have been there, we have a whole community of preemie mamas waiting to talk to you.
👶 Read next: Baby Born at 35 Weeks: What to Know