Baby Born at 34 Weeks: Causes, Complications & How to Care

Baby Born at 34 Weeks of Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed By
Megha Gupta (Paediatric Nutritionist)
View more Paediatric Nutritionist Our Panel of Experts

Normally, babies are born after 38 weeks of gestation. However, in some cases, babies are born prematurely, at 34 weeks. Called as preemies, these infants need special care, both at the hospital and home. Before we dive into the topic, let’s find out the causes for the delivery that happens at 34 weeks.

What Causes Childbirth at 34 Weeks?

Although medical science has helped a great extent to manage childbirth, there are several factors which could be responsible for premature delivery. Read on to know more.

  • Genital tract infections and bacterial secretions that weaken the membranes surrounding the amniotic sac, causing it to rupture early
  • Placental problems such as placenta previa, placental abruption or placenta accrete
  • The presence of multiples or excessive amniotic fluid
  • Abnormalities in the structure of the uterus or cervix such as cervical insufficiency
  • Abdominal surgery during pregnancy to remove ovarian cysts, appendix or gallbladder

Complications That Babies Born at 34 Weeks Face

Here are some common complications that babies born at 34 weeks have to face: (It is not necessary that all these complications are there for sure)

1. Jaundice

Preemies tend to contract jaundice as they lack a fully functional metabolic system. A by-product of the blood, bilirubin, accumulates in the body, leading to a yellowing of the skin and eyes.

2. Anaemia

Anaemia is caused by a deficiency of red blood cells. These cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to different parts of the body. In a premature baby, red blood cells production is slow in comparison to a full-term baby, which leads to anaemia in premature babies

3. Apnea

Apnea is a condition in which infants stop breathing for a few seconds during sleep. In premature babies. This can be treated with ventilation and outer oxygen support.

A baby sick

5. Infections

Preemies are also highly susceptible to infections due to their weak immune system.

6. Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Patent Ductus Arteriosus is a heart defect caused by problems in the heart’s development in premature babies.

7. Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD)

if your baby develops this health condition, she may require a ventilator to breathe.

8. Low Blood Pressure

Patent Ductus Arteriosus also leads to low blood pressure as the heart if not developed in premature babies.

9. Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)

NEC is a disease that affects mostly the intestine of premature babies. The wall of the intestine is invaded by bacteria, that cause infection and inflammation, which ultimately destroys the bowel wall.

How To Take Care of a Preemie Born At 34 Weeks

A premature baby born at 34 weeks needs special care and attention at different stages. Here are some ways you can take care of your little one after birth:

1. At the NICU

Babies born at 8 months are shifted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and closely monitored for a few weeks. Babies are kept in incubators with transparent domes that allow just the right amount of light. They also have tubes for feeding and breathing. The atmosphere inside the NICU is carefully controlled with the right mixture of temperature, humidity and partial pressures of gas which is ideal for the growth and recovery of the baby.

A baby in an incubator

2. Feeding

Premature babies cannot be breastfed as their suckling response remains under-developed at birth. They are fed through a tube that goes to the baby’s stomach via the mouth. You may be required to use a breast pump to extract the milk and then feed it to your baby. You may be allowed to breastfeed after she recovers and is discharged from the NICU.

3. Bonding

Bonding between the mother and the child is important. However, this can be hindered by the baby’s being placed in an incubator. However, it’s only a matter of time before your baby will be discharged and be able to register your voice and touch.

What Is the Survival Rate of Babies Born At 34 Weeks?

The good news is that the survival rate for moderately preterm babies is over 98% (16.2 deaths per 1000 live births). Therefore, unless there are multiple complications, most of the babies survive.

How Long Will Your Baby Need to Stay in the NICU?

All preterm babies are required to meet certain milestones before they can be discharged from the NICU. If your infant was born at 34 weeks, she may need to stay in the NICU until she turns 36 weeks. She should be able to breathe, eat, and regulate her body temperature (Newborn can’t eat… also can’t regulate the body temperature on its own.). However, after a few weeks in the NICU, most babies recover after being born preterm at 8 months.

Also Read: Preterm Labour and Birth – Reasons, Signs & Treatment

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