If twins are born before 37 weeks, is what is considered premature birth or are said to be premature. More specifically, twins born at 32 weeks are considered moderate to late preterm, according to the World Health Organization. This means that since these babies have hit a significant milestone in their development, they are no longer considered “very preterm” which is something quite comforting if you think about it.
Like any woman who is pregnant with twins, it is best to eliminate all doubts and have all questions answered, especially when it comes to the possibility of giving birth at the 32-week mark. This article aims to do just that.
Premature Baby: Twins Fetal Development at 32 weeks
Baby Centre UK explains that at 32 weeks, the weight of each twin is about 3.7 lbs (1.7 kg). From head to foot, they measure an average of 42 cm (16.5 in). It is possible that one twin may be bigger than the other. Both of the twins already look like newborns but they would still need more time to grow.
The twins’ movements can be a bit different because they no longer have that much space to move around. If you don’t feel them moving, try to lie down or drink something cold. This can help spur some movement. If you feel them squirm, then you know they’re fine.
At this time, it would be best to know what symptoms are experienced and how to have a healthy pregnancy during this week.
Preterm Pregnancy: What should I expect if twins born at 32 weeks?
Dr. Barbara Luke, author of “When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads,” says that fifty percent of twin pregnancies are born prematurely. Because of today’s advanced technology, the survival rate of babies born between 32 and 34 weeks has increased.
Although this is good news, there are still risks when twins are born at 32 weeks that all parents of preemies must know:
- Weight is a concern. If a newborn baby is less than four pounds, he will automatically be placed in the neonatal intensive care unit. The baby will have to remain there until he reaches the ideal weight (4 lbs). Weight can be a potential danger because preemies do not have enough of the needed body fat to sustain their body temperature. Thus, the need for incubators or radiant warmers.
- Expect feeding issues. Babies born before 34 weeks have a difficulty sucking effectively to feed. A feeding tube (gavage) may be needed which will be inserted into the stomach of the baby. Intravenous feedings may also be done so the baby can still get all the essential nutrients he needs to grow. If preemies babies feed through the mouth, food is poorly digested and would trigger other problems.
- Delayed development can happen. Learning and behavioral delays might be an issue because the brain has not fully developed in preterm babies.
- Preemies are prone to infections. Since the twins’ immune systems are not fully developed at 32 weeks, preterm babies easily develop infections. An infection can come from a feeding tube, a respirator, a surgical incision, or from an unhygienic environment.
How should I care for my 32-week Preemie Babies?
March of Dimes has released guidelines on “Life-saving Essential and Extra Newborn Care” for babies who are born preterm. These essentials include Kangaroo Mother Care (thermal care), infection prevention, and feeding support.
Kangaroo Mother Care, otherwise called thermal care, has proven mortality effect for babies. This is a way of caring for preemies by having mothers hold their baby involving skin-to-skin contact for at least one hour, as many times as possible.
The mother and the babies should be covered with a blanket while doing this. Other methods to maintain a baby’s temperature include drying, wrapping, increasing the environmental temperature, and covering the baby’s head with a knitted cap.
Since preemies are prone to bacteria, infection prevention is a must. Basic hygienic practices should be done religiously such as hand washing and maintaining a clean environment.
Lastly, extra support for breastfeeding is equally important. Initiating breastfeeding within one hour after birth reduces newborn mortality. This is because breast milk benefits premature babies nutritionally, immunologically, and developmentally. Methods to provide feeding support include cup feeding and tube feeding.
Mothers with twins born at 32 weeks need all the extra care and support they need. The challenges and joys that go along with caring for preemies can be a rollercoaster ride so it is important for everyone in the family to realize that each one has a significant role in caring for the twins, as well as the mom.
What’s important is that everyone steps up and does his or her part.