Welcome. Are you pregnant? Or are you figuring out your way through new parenthood? This is the blog for you! As a mother to a 3 year old boy and 1 year old boy/girl twins, I've been there, done that. From breastfeeding to potty training. From natural labor to c-section. And from swaddling to car seats. I have advice and I'm not afraid to share it! If you have a question, just ask me!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Late Pre-Term Babies? What's that?

It seems like I'm always hearing about friends or friends of friends who are getting induced or having scheduled c-sections before their due dates.  There are obviously good reasons to do this. The fact that it is becoming more and more common seems concerning.

First let me say a "due-date" is not when you are DUE.  It's a guess as to when your baby might arrive.  It's not an exact date, and people look at that date as if your belly is going to explode if the baby is not out by then.  A due date is 40 weeks gestation.  The problem with this is that 40 weeks is NOT the average gestation of women who go into labor naturally!!!  The average gestation of a healthy first-time mother is 41 WEEKS, 1 DAY.  So if inducing 1 week early, you could be inducing 2-3 weeks early in reality (your baby may have wanted to wait until 42 weeks!)

Many mothers are anxious to see their babies, and when a doctor suggests delivering early, they say "Yes!"  Unfortunately, they don't take the time to research if that is a good idea or not.  Babies even born a week early can have symptoms of a "Late Preterm" baby.

Photo by Natalia Wilson ~ Copyright: February 25, 2010.

Feeding:  Babies may be more slow to eat.  If breastfeeding is important to you it may be good to discuss the necessity of an early delivery.

Breathing:  Babies can need help breathing.  Especially if you are carrying a white boy, this can be an issue to consider.  It's called "Wimpy White Boy Syndrome."  When we toured our NICU before our boy/girl twins were born, we asked the NICU nurse about this.  She said it is a very real occurrence.  For some reason, male Caucasian babies' lungs seem to develop later.  My doctor suggested a scheduled c-section for my twins at 37 weeks.  I asked for another week, since I knew we had a boy in there.  He asked that I come in for two visits that last week instead of 1.  He wanted me to have non-stress test AND a BPP that last week.  I was OK with that.  That week proved to be very important.  My baby boy was having trouble breathing, and my husband said the nurses were having a discussion as to whether he should go to the NICU.  Luckily he figured it out and didn't have to go, and we were able to get him breastfeeding right away!

Temperature:  Like other preterm babies, late preterms can have trouble regulating their body temperature.

In the last weeks of gestation, babies put on about 1/2 pound each week.  That is a lot when you're talking about baby weight!  Late preterm babies may also be more likely to get jaundice and infections.

For more information:
Awhonn Late Preterm Infant Initiative - What Parents of Late Preterm (Near-Term) Infants Need to Know.
About:  Late Pre-term Babies
March of Dimes - Premature birth
When Research is Flawed:  Management of Post-Term Pregnancy
Westside Doula - Due Date

You have chosen your doctor because you feel comfortable making decisions WITH him or her.  If that is not true, then switch doctors!  You need to do your own research, so you are able to have a discussion about these things with your doctor.  Let's face it...doctors are human.  I'm sure they'd like to have your baby come M-F between the hours of 9-5 if possible.  Maybe not all of them...but some.

I wanted a natural birth with my kids.  My first child I was uninformed, was not prepared and did not know my options.  After 30 hours of natural labor, I went w/ what my doctor and hospital nurses were telling me was best.  It was not, but everything turned out OK.  With my twins, I was OVER prepared, and knew all my options.  Unfortunately, my twins were both breech.  I did my research and made decisions WITH my new doctor that made both of us comfortable with our plan for the end goal:  healthy babies.

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