When you first become pregnant, that 39-week mark may seem like a long ways away and you become impatient. On occasion your baby may be impatient too and decide to come in the eighth month instead of the ninth. The eighth month of pregnancy generally consists of weeks 34, 35, 36, 37 and 38, depending on your exact conception date. If the baby comes in the eighth month, it is important to understand what you and he are in store for.
First and foremost, most infants born in the eighth moth -- weeks 34 through 38 -- are completely healthy and live normal lives. They may be kept in the hospital for a short time for basic observation. Some extreme cases are outside of the norm, however.
Expect your baby to be only slightly premature and need minimal hospital treatment. He may be placed in an incubator or under a heat-radiating lamp for a short period of time to make certain his body heat is stable. He also my be given a shot of antibiotics, in case of an infection having caused the premature birth.
Chronic lung disease -- also called CLD -- can occur in some premature infants. This is diagnosed whenever an infant still needs breathing assistance after four weeks. Your infant may need extended medical services, medication and higher caloric intake than other infants. Your premature infant may also get apnea and bradycardia. This is where breathing will stop for a short period of time, causing your baby's heart rate to drop. This can be treated in several ways: by medication, stimulation or ventilation.
Because your premature infant has an immature immune system, he may be susceptible to infections and viruses. This is managed with medication and close medical care.
Persistent Ductus Arteriosus
A blood vessel near your baby's heart is supposed to close shortly after birth. In some cases, a premature baby's vessel may stay open. Medicine will first be used in an attempt to close the vessel, and if that is ineffective, surgery will be needed.
A premature baby may be subject to bleeding inside her brain, a condition known as intraventricular hemorrhage. This typically goes away only a few days after birth, except in extreme cases.
In some cases, a premature infant may be subject to brain damage. Periventricular leukomalacia is typically the type of brain damage that affects premature infants.
Typically, an infant born at 34 weeks or later can be fed regularly. There is a risk, however, that an inflammation of the intestines may occur. Also known as necrotizing enterocolitis, this can typically be treated with medication, but in some cases surgery is required.
From 37 weeks and on, your developing baby is considered full-term. There would be very little to no medical assistance needed for a baby born after this period of time, even though he is not quite nine months in the womb yet.
- baby image by Dron from Fotolia.com