Late preterm infants have special needs. If your baby is born at 34 to 36 weeks, your baby didn't have all the time she needed to grow and mature. She may experience some challenges in the following areas:
Your baby's lungs may not be fully developed and she may not breathe well. Because her brain is immature, she may forget to breathe at times (apnea).
Late preterm babies may have a weak suck and swallow and may not feed well at first. They may not awaken for feedings or give cues when they are hungry. Good feeding is important for growth, normal levels of blood sugar and hydration. Colostrum and breast milk are specially designed to keep your baby healthy. You will receive extra help from your nurse and a certified lactation counselor to learn how to successfully breastfeed. Your baby's suck may not be strong enough to stimulate your milk to come in. Pumping your breasts after feedings will help. A plentiful milk supply will make it easier for your late preterm baby to breastfeed.
Your baby is probably small and has little fat stored up. Because of this, she may get cold and burn too many calories trying to stay warm. She will need her temperature checked regularly during her hospitalization.
Your baby has an immature immune system, placing her at greater risk for infection. Early symptoms of infection may include difficulty with breathing or feeding, poor temperature control or decreased energy levels.
Jaundice is when the eyes and skin become yellow from a build up of bilirubin. Bilirubin is processed by the liver and then removed from the body by the intestines. Late preterm babies have immature livers and are more likely to have jaundice. Poor feeding can make bilirubin increase. A high bilirubin can lead to serious complications if not found and treated early. We will be watching your baby closely.
For more information about caring for a late pre-term baby, you may review our patient education materials for babies born at 34 to 35 weeks or 36 weeks gestation.