A baby born at 29 weeks has reached the preliminary portion of the third trimester and will have a good chance of survival if delivered this early.
Development of a Baby Born at 29 Weeks
A pregnancy calendar that tracks the development of a fetus is a good place to start if you are curious as to the survival chances of a baby born at 29 weeks. BabyCenter.com has been a longstanding trusted resource for expectant women regarding pregnancy and infant development information, and the site offers a highly explanative calendar for each week of fetal development. According to BabyCenter's growth estimations for an infant in its 29th week of gestation, the baby's weight is about 2.5 pounds and is really enduring the rest of this gestational period for the purposes of gaining weight and allowing his organs to develop further. By the end of the second trimester, a fetus has all of its organs and bodily systems intact and can, with the aid of modern neonatal technology, survive birth as early as 23 or 24 weeks. This does not mean that all infants born this early will survive. In fact, statistically only one in ten infants born at about 23 weeks will live. Babies at this stage of development are simply too delicate, so delicate that their blood vessels can burst when they aim to exist outside the womb.
Complications and Neonatal Aid
By the time a fetus has reached 29 week, its body is far stronger. Over the next few weeks leading up to a full term delivery, a baby will have a chance for its lungs to develop and become stronger so that it can breathe independently after birth. Babies born several weeks prematurely will often need the aid of a ventilator to promote breathing. Many mothers who are expecting to deliver preterm, mainly due to certain medical disorders, will receive steroid injections to speed up the development of their baby's lungs. Babies born this early will often be whisked off to the neonatal ward for feeding and breathing aids.
Many expectant mothers agonize over each week of pregnancy, exhaling a breath of reassurance once their baby has passed just one more week of gestation. It is true that premature births are quite common in the United States, but contemporary medicine and technology have made it such that most infants born prematurely at about 29 weeks will do well, and only a small percentage of these infants will endure life-long health problems due to inadequate development.
Immunodeficiency is a common problem in premature infants, as their bodies are not yet strong enough to take on the natural elements. Oral thrush and frequent infections may plague the first couple years of a child's life if she has been born significantly premature. As the child ages, her system may strengthen to overcome such problems, but parents of a premature infant should take great pains to ensure that their child's diet and lifestyle are conducive to vibrant health in order to ward off such difficulties.
KidsHealth.org has published an article detailing the complications that can occur in prematurely born infants. This article also stresses the importance of breast milk for nourishing preemies and fortifying their immune systems. Preemies are very susceptible to intestinal infections, and breast milk is a natural source of probiotics bacteria in addition to numerous antibodies that can fight off certain pathogens. Babies born at about 29 weeks can often be too weak to nurse, hence many mothers will have to pump their milk to give to their infant through a feeding tube. This process, of course, will not last forever, and as the infant strengthens it is possible to achieve a normal breastfeeding routine once the baby has left the hospital.
Don't be surprised however if your 29 week preemie needs his breast milk fortified with some kind of nutritional aid. Infants born this early typically suffer from nutritional deficiencies, so an iron-fortified formula may be necessary to bring your baby to health.
Additional Survival Factors
The gestational period at which your baby is born is very telling as to her chances of survival and overall health. However, another important factor in determining the health of your infant at the time of her delivery is the actual reason why this baby was delivered early. A baby born at 30 weeks due to a mother's uncontrolled gestational diabetes may present an entirely different health situation than that of an infant delivered at 30 weeks due to unexplained preterm labor. It is important for expectant mothers to have their health closely monitored by a physician or midwife during their pregnancies so that underlying health conditions leading to preterm labor can be identified and treated as early as possible.