Thanks to advances in medical science, a baby born at 24 weeks has a higher chance of survival than ever before.
The Life of a Baby Born at 24 Weeks
Twenty-four weeks puts your baby close to the end of your second trimester. By now, all your baby's organs are intact, and, basically, this time is being used for critical stages in development. Organs such as the brain are growing, the lungs are still developing, and there are many vital processes taking place regarding the maturity of your infant's body. Hence, when a baby is born at 24 weeks gestation, it is a huge cause for alarm. Most babies at this point barely weigh one and a half pounds. In this case, when a mother goes into preterm labor at this point in the second trimester, if the infant survives the birthing process (very often a cesarean is required at this gestational stage), he or she will be shipped off to the neonatal unit immediately. A baby born at 24 weeks will require a respirator immediately, as the lungs are not yet equipped to handle breathing outside the womb.
You can also expect surgeries due to insufficiently developed organs causing problems in your baby's body. Your infant will likely spend months under neonatal supervision, and it is possible that certain long-term health problems will arise due to this preterm labor. However, these health issues are not necessarily a given. Some babies born prematurely survive the process after a long NICU stay and emerge healthy overall, but it is normal to expect that the infant to toddler years may involve more concern and care.
Increasing Your Baby's Gestational Time
A large number of babies are born prematurely every year, though a good deal of these cases occur under medical supervision, which increases the baby's chance of survival exponentially. There are many causes of preterm labor, though some still remain unknown.
Your chances of preterm labor are higher if you are over the age of 35. The Duggar family shocked the world again with the birth of their 19th child. Michelle's previous pregnancy had resulted in preterm labor, and a cesarean section was performed to safely birth their 18th child. However, Michelle's latest pregnancy resulted in a baby being born at 25 weeks. The little infant, named Josie, weighed only 1 lb. 6 oz. and suffered a bowel perforation only a week after birth. You can read more about Josie Duggars' struggle for survival at NyDailyNews.com. Doctors related the cause of Michelle's early labor to the condition of preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a huge factor in preterm labor. This toxic condition can cause lifelong health problems for mothers as well as result in infant loss if the condition is not closely monitored. This is why it is important for expectant mothers to routinely make their monthly doctor's exam where their urine will be tested for excess protein and their blood pressure will be examined for unhealthily high levels.
Certain infections can result in early labors. You can read one inspiring story about a baby surviving his birth at 24 weeks, yet it is interesting to note that his mother's labor was brought upon by a strep B infection. In the United States, mothers are routinely screened for strep B during cervical exams, and a simple course of antibiotics can rid this bacteria from the mother's system.
Gestational diabetes can result in both preterm labor and seriously larger babies. Doctors will order glucose screening tests for their patients around 25 weeks to rule out the possibility of this disease. Rapid and unhealthy levels of weight gain are an indicator of gestational diabetes, so an expectant mother will also be weighed each time she makes her doctor's appointment.
You can see that one of the major defense strategies of any expectant mother is to see her obstetrician regularly. Eating healthily, maintaining low stress levels, and remaining aware of any suspicious health changes over the course of a pregnancy are also important preventative factors.