Less Than 26 Weeks Gestation

What You Can Expect

Babies of this age are often called “micro-preemies.” Your baby’s organs and senses are very immature. The lungs are especially immature and your baby will need help to breath. His skin is very thin, fragile, sensitive to touch and may be covered in fine hair. Your baby can only handle a small amount of touching and can’t separate touch from pain. With no fat, your baby will have trouble keeping warm so the incubator will control his temperature.

Babies of this age often have fused eyelids so that it always looks like he is sleeping. In fact it is often difficult to tell when your baby is awake or asleep. Most of the time, your baby will be “quiet” and look calm and still. Your baby needs a lot of sleep to grow and gain weight. When active, his movements are mainly jerks, twitches and startles, and he will need help to stay in a comfortable position at rest and with care.

Micro-preemie baby

Your baby can taste and smell but his stomach and intestines are not yet ready for food. Over time, small amounts of breast milk or formula will be offered through a feeding tube to get your baby ready for food. In the meantime, your baby will get nutrition through his veins. Even at this young age, babies know their mother’s voice and smell, but their hearing and smell are very sensitive so loud sounds or strong smells may be too much for them.

Things You Can Do For Your Baby

  • Skin to skin care, holding your baby to your chest, may be possible. Check with your nurse.
  • When the baby is asleep, try not to wake him as you touch him. Let the baby rest so he can grow and gain weight.
  • Lay your hand on the baby’s back or head with firm but gentle pressure or place your finger in his hand for him to hold onto.
  • Don’t stroke or rub the skin. This may cause pain.
  • Your baby needs a dark environment. Uncover the incubator slowly so that light change is slow. Shield his eyes from bright light.
  • Avoid loud sounds. Don’t tap or knock on the incubator. Open and close doors quietly.
  • Avoid strong smells like perfume, scented lotions or cigarette smoke.
  • With care, you may be able to help the nurse by providing boundaries around your baby. Cradle your baby by placing hands around your baby’s head and bottom and/or feet.