image001A normal pregnancy lasts between 38 to 40 weeks, but in some cases it may only last up to 34th week. When a baby is born in the 34th week of pregnancy, he is referred to as “premature”. In fact any baby born before the 37th week will be referred to as premature. The baby born at 34 weeks is not yet fully grown and is probably not developed enough to come out into the world as yet.

Despite this factor, a baby can be delivered by a mother due to several physiological and external reasons, but the real problem starts after birth. The baby being immature is unable to cope with the sudden change in environment and may suffer from health issues that can possibly be life threatening or fatal. Babies in a critical state need to shifted to the “Neonatal Intensive Care Unit” (NICU), and will most probably stay there for a few weeks. Despite all the risks associated with early births, modern medicinal and biotechnological advances have helped considerable in reducing the mortality rate of such babies.

Appearance of Babies Born at 34 Weeks

The appearance of a 34 weeks old baby may resemble that of an immature baby. Your child may have a very see-through, delicate skin with visible venous network (due to lack of subcutaneous fat). Some of the physical features will be fully developed in a 34-week baby such as full grown nails and bones. But the baby’s respiratory and immune system may not be fully functional, which means that the baby will need ventilator once he is delivered. Also the baby will have to be kept in an isolated unit to keep her away from microbial exposure; these special units are called NICUS.

Babies born at 34 weeks of pregnancy lack full functional capacity to live on their own, due to incomplete development of certain organs and organ systems. In addition, certain biophysical parameters may also lack complete development. For instance, the baby is most likely to weigh around 2 to 4 kilograms; their height may be somewhere around 50 centimeters and they are likely to have red/ pinkish colored skin.

Associated Complications of Babies Born at 34 Weeks




Immature babies lack a fully functional metabolic system, therefore by-products of blood such as bilirubin may accumulate on the body leading to a yellowish manifestation of the skin commonly known as jaundice.

Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS)

Undeveloped respiratory system will hinder breathing. Any changes in the environmental pressure can trigger severe distress and even cessation of respiratory function.


Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen around the body, because an immature birth does not allow for enough time for the child’s blood pool to develop completely, disorders such as “anemia” may result, where the blood does not carry sufficient oxygen throughout the body.


Disordered breathing also called “apnea” is likely to result because of underdeveloped respiratory system.

Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD)

This condition may call for the assistance of a ventilator and the child may need support in breathing for weeks.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus

This is an artery joining the baby to the mother, because of premature birth this artery might not close properly and lead to serious complications.


Because of a week immune system, defense against microbes is also weak, as a result the child is likely to suffer from infections and illnesses that a baby with normal birth won’t.

Low Blood Pressure

Since the child’s blood network and blood pools are not completely developed, maintenance of blood pressure is often difficult. Lowering of blood pressure is mostly observed, especially immediately after birth.

Necrotizing Enterocolitis

The babies’ blood network is week and fragile; therefore, even the slightest trauma can result in.

Here is a video to help you understand these complications better:

Taking Care of The Babies Born at 34 Weeks

1. Staying

The babies will most probably be shifted to a critical care unit, where careful monitoring and close evaluation can be done. They are kept in transparent or translucent, dome shaped bed to allow easy view and just the right amount of light. The babies may also have a few tubes attached to them depending on the breathing conditions, feeding abilities and other physiological conditions such as blood disorders etc. The dome covering allows the maintenance of a controlled environment, where humidity, temperature, partial pressure of gases and moisture can be controlled as per requirements.

2. Feeding

Because the child is born premature, it is very likely that they cannot be breast-fed immediately, therefore an extra body tube (passed down to the baby’s stomach) is used to pass food via mouth. If the baby is unable to feed through the mouth, then he is given nutrition through an intra-venous tube. Doctors will mostly recommend feeding the child with breast milk instead of prepared food, because breast milk contains just the right amount of antibodies, proteins and fats required to nourish the baby. It is most likely that the child will start feeding directly on the mothers breasts in a few weeks’ time with proper care.

3. Bonding with Your Child

Unlike a normal delivery, interacting with your baby in an incubator is always going to be different experience. Initially the doctor will most probably restrict you from holding the child, but you will be able to view the child from the transparent incubator. The child will also have tubing’s attached making it difficult for you to hold him for long. Mothers at this stage are most likely to be very restless, stressed out and may develop acute depression. But it is only a matter of time before your child gains enough health to be held in your arms. Under the nurses’ supervision, hold the child close to your body to help your baby recognize you, try and talk to them so that they can register your voice, and you may also even swing him slightly if the doctor permits. All of these will not only help the mother with her depression, but also start the development of an intimate bond between the mother and child.