How long is my preemie considered a preemie?Katie Allison
Baby G was born on June 27th at only 34 weeks. Despite how early she was, she only had to go to the nursery for a few hours that first night, and she was in the room with me for the rest of her 5 day hospital stay. She did have a little jaundice that required some bilirubin lighting at around three days old, but it wasn’t terribly serious, and she overcame it quickly.
She weighed a little over 5lbs at birth, but got down to about 4.5 lbs during the first week we had her at home. Breastfeeding was problematic, but I think that was due much more to my own physical issues than to her prematurity (although there is no doubt that her prematurity made things tougher). She’s grown very well since we found an infant formula she could tolerate (Similac Alimentum), and now, at 5 months old, she weighs around 13 lbs. In other words, despite her early arrival, she doesn’t seem to have suffered any ill effects.
However, now that she’s getting to the point where she will soon start hitting some of the more significant developmental milestones – like rolling over (she’s trying but has only managed to do it one time), sitting up, and trying to crawl – I am wondering whether her prematurity at birth should be factored into when we expect her to accomplish these things. I hear many parents of preemies continue to refer to their babies’ “adjusted age” well into toddlerhood, but I am assuming that those are children who were born far earlier than 34 weeks, and who might have had more difficulties as newborns. On the other hand, I don’t want to worry unnecessarily if G does indeed take a bit longer to do things like sit up; maybe I should be thinking of her as 6 weeks younger than she actually is – meaning more like a 3.5 month old than a 5 month old.
My pediatrician says he doesn’t worry too much about the whole adjusted age thing and instead focuses on the individual baby and how her overall growth and development seems to be trending. He has no worries about G at this point, and doesn’t anticipate any issues. But I’d be interested to hear from other moms of babies born early; do you think in terms of adjusted age when managing your expectations for your baby’s growth and development? At what point did your baby’s early birth stop factoring into the way you tracked her developmental milestones or other measures of well being?
In other words, how long is a preemie considered a preemie? Share your thoughts on this with me in the comments below.
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