What to Expect from 23-25 Weeks
Depending on how sick your baby is, she may not show the expected age-appropriate behavior until she’s feeling better.
Before Your Baby is Born
- Your baby is thin with no fat.
- Breathing and swallowing movements are present.
- Your baby's eyes may not be open.
- Your baby's bones are soft and joints are moveable.
- Your baby's lungs and nerves are immature.
- Babies born this early will need special care in the NICU to survive.
All babies at this age have red skin color, despite ethnic background. Their skin looks wet, shiny, sticky, and is see-through. You might be able to see tiny veins just below the surface of the skin. Your baby's eyelids may not be open yet.
Tone and Posture
Your baby’s muscles are present and weak. His arms and legs are floppy and are extended, not pulled up tight toward his belly.
Your baby's nerves aren’t fully developed. She may be able to lightly grip your finger.
Vision & Hearing
Some babies are unable to open their eyelids at this time, though they will usually open within 1-3 weeks. Even if your baby's eyes are open, he’s not able to see anything yet. He can hear and often knows his parents' voices, but finds loud noises stressful. He’ll usually calm to the sound of his mother's voice.
Your baby is able to weakly suck and swallow. The gag reflex isn’t fully developed. Because of this, your baby will get most or all of her food from IV fluids called TPN. When breast milk or formula is started, it will be given through a tube that goes through her nose and into her stomach.
Your baby may find touching stressful. When upset, some babies have changes in color, heart rate or breathing. These may be "time-out" signals for your baby. Your nurse will teach you to look for the different "time-out" signals.
Before 28 weeks, it’s hard to tell when your baby is awake. He may not move around much at all and will sleep most of the time. It's important to allow your baby to have uninterrupted sleep so he can gain weight. Don't be surprised if it’s hard to wake your baby. Also, remember that light and noise may easily upset him. He can't maintain eye contact, smile or coo at this time.
Things to Do For Your Baby
Your baby can only tolerate a small amount of touching at this time. Learn how to lay her in a comfortable position, and how to keep her "nested" in the fetal position. This means bringing her legs and arms close to her stomach and chest. Also, position your baby's hand up close to her mouth or face whenever possible. Remember that moving makes your baby tired.
Learn about kangaroo care. This is when you hold your baby on your chest with the baby's skin next to yours. You can also talk or read to your baby in a low, quiet, soft voice for short periods of time. Consider bringing in a blanket or afghan from home to cover your baby's isolette. He needs to be in a dark environment just like when he was inside of mom.
Minimal stimulation or minimal handling is best at this age. Babies born this early are not old enough for social contact. These behaviors may let you know when your baby is stressed and needs a rest:
- change in breathing pattern (sometimes breathes faster and harder or stops breathing)
- change in heart rate (sometimes becomes faster or slows down)
- change in color (pale, bluish).