What to Expect from 26-27 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 very little fat.
- Muscles are present but are very weak.
- Breathing and swallowing movements are present.
- Your baby's eyelids are partially open.
- The skin is beginning to thicken on your child's hands and feet, forming footprints and fingerprints.
- Your baby's bones are soft and joints are moveable.
- The lungs and nerves are immature.
All babies have red skin color, despite ethnic background. Natural skin color will develop over the next six weeks. Your child's skin is almost see-through. Tiny veins are visible just below the surface of his skin.
Your baby's facial features are developed, and soft, fine hair is visible all over her body. This is called lanugo.
Tone and Posture
Your baby is flexible and limp. If his arms and legs are lifted and released, they flop to the bed surface. He needs to have his head and body supported at all times.
Your baby's nerves are not fully developed, and movement of her arms and legs isn’t smooth at this time. You’ll notice shaky or jerky movements. If you place your finger in your baby's palm, she may grip your finger for a few seconds. Remember that she tires easily from moving around a lot.
Vision & Hearing
Your child can open up his eyes and blink, but isn’t able to focus. He’ll tightly close his eyes in bright lights. Your baby can hear, and knows your voices - but finds loud noises stressful. However, mom's voice is calming and may cause your baby to stop moving, open his mouth or widen his eyes.
Your baby is able to weakly suck and swallow, but the gag reflex is not fully developed. Because of this, she’ll get some or all of her nutrition from IV fluids called TPN. When breast milk or formula is started, it will be given through a tube that goes through her nose down into her stomach, since she’s too small to breastfeed or take a bottle.
Too much touching can be stressful to your baby, or cause him to tire. He’ll only be able to stay awake for a few seconds at a time.
Your baby is a light sleeper and is very sensitive to noise, light and handling. Before 28 weeks, it’s hard to tell when she’s awake. She sleeps almost all the time. When your baby is in deep sleep, it may be hard to wake her. It's important to allow her to rest uninterrupted as much as possible.
She may be irritable when she’s awake. When your baby is stressed or becomes upset, you may notice jerky movements, and changes in color, heart rate or breathing.
Things to Do For Your Baby
Learn what normal behavior is for your baby, and the cues your baby gives you when he’s ready to interact. These cues are called "approach signals." With time, you’ll also discover the type of touch that soothes and comforts your baby.
Learn how to lay your baby in comfortable positions. To keep him tucked in the comforting fetal position, bring his legs and arms close to his stomach and chest. Positioning his hands close to his mouth or face whenever possible is also comforting to your child. You'll also want to learn how to nest your baby in the isolette. This is called containment. It’s done by loosely wrapping your baby in a blanket and placing rolls completely around his body. This gives him boundaries on all sides and helps him stay in a tucked position.
Your baby will also find kangaroo care comforting. In this position, you hold your baby on your chest with her skin next to yours.
Understand that moving and handling your baby makes him tired. Allow him to have periods of undisturbed sleep.
It’s important for your baby to hear your voice. Talk or read to her in a low, quiet, soft voice for short periods of time, and learn to read her cues that signal she’s stressed and needs to rest.
Consider bringing in a blanket or afghan from home to cover your baby's isolette. Your baby needs to be in a dark environment just like when he was inside mom.
Time-Out SignalsMinimal stimulation or minimal handling is best at this age. Babies born at this age are not old enough for social contact. These behaviors may mean that your baby is stressed and needs a rest:
- change in breathing pattern, heart rate and/or color
- frowning or grimacing
- flailing arms or legs, or spreading fingers out wide (splaying)
- crying and fussing
- arching back and neck
- frantic movements