Premature birth is always an event in every family that merits mixed emotions. On the one hand, you get to see and love the newest member of your circle a little sooner – but on the other hand, a premature birth has plenty of complications that you will have to deal with.
For twins born at 34 weeks, this situation definitely doubles in importance.
What to know about premature births
First off, it’s important to know what exactly to expect with premature birth. While it’s true that the 37-week mark is the most ideal for babies to be born, babies actually have an excellent chance of survival if they come out around week 32 to 34.
This is why most babies born in this period may still have complicated births, but generally live to have full, healthy lives.
At this point, you might be wondering what exactly it is that causes premature births to happen. Truthfully, there isn’t a particular cause why. Many factors that can be pointed to, but here are some of the most common:
- Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- Low-lying placenta
- Intrauterine growth restriction
- Being pregnant with more than one baby
However, the case will often differ depending on the woman. Some cases of premature birth can also be artificially induced (because of factors like kidney disease or growth restriction). What’s more important isn’t the why – but the what to do afterward.
What should be done after a premature birth?
The reason why babies need nine months to develop in their mother’s womb is that the process for growing a human being typically takes that long – it’s not a process you can rush. If a baby is born before the process is completed, they will usually run into a gamut of health problems.
These problems can range from moderate to severe depending on how ahead of time were they born.
- 34-36 weeks, or near-term babies, will often avoid the majority of the problems that premature babies will go through such as breathing or increased risk to hypothermia. The most assistance they will need is how to suckle and swallow – in which case, they may be hooked up to a machine that provides them with nutrition.
- 32-33 weeks, or moderates, will most likely face mild breathing problems and blood sugar complications.
- 28-32 week babies face all the issues above, as well as possible infection and susceptibility to complications in their bloodstream. However, since they are far along in their development stage, babies are usually fine with support.
- 27 weeks and below are babies that face the most risk. They’re often put in neonatal intensive care units, and carefully watched over until their development finishes (or their body stabilizes.)
If you want to see more information on premature babies, here’s a documentary about babies that were born earlier than expected:
I had twins born at 34 weeks – what should I do?
The first thing you should do is not to panic. Yes, it may be early, but your twins have an excellent chance of survival.
Secondly, stay with your babies whenever you can. While it can be entirely possible that both or one babies will be sent for a while to the neonatal intensive care units, this is more or less a precaution rather than a necessity.
The most important thing for your twins right now is growing and gaining weight. They may face difficulties in trying to eat or breathe, but these problems are rare.
Finally, kangaroo care – or skin-to-skin contact – is something that you must absolutely do with your newborns. Not only does it help their respiratory development, it also fulfills a practical purpose of helping their bodies stabilize to room temperature, and eventually strengthen your familial bond.
Fathers can participate in this just as much as mothers can so let daddy cradle your newest loved ones for a while!
The most important thing though is to remember that no matter how early or how complex they’ve come into your life, your children are still deserving of your love and care!