Babies Born at 33 Weeks

The duration of an average pregnancy is around 40 weeks, at this point the fetus is fully developed and ready to be born. If your baby is born 3 or more weeks before its expected due date, then it would be classed as a premature birth. For babies born at 33 weeks, specialized care may be required to ensure the health and prosperity of the child. This article will detail what to expect if your baby is born before its due date.

Will My Baby Be Ok If Born at 33 Weeks?

Premature babies are usually smaller and weigh less than babies who have undergone full development within the uterus. 

The vast majority (around 98%) of babies born at this stage of pregnancy survive, although due to the fact that the human respiratory system is not fully developed until the last week of pregnancy, babies born premature at 33 weeks often need supplemental oxygen to assist them with breathing, although some babies born at this time can breathe on their own without hassle. The babies who are unable to breathe independently may also have difficulty feeding properly, meaning that tube feeding may be required until they are able to feed efficiently. Learning to breathe independently may be easier for the baby than learning to feed, due to the underdeveloped suck, swallow, and breath reflex. This can lead to difficulty in providing your child with nourishment, and an inability for them to gain weight. 

Risks of Delivering a Baby at 33 Weeks

Along with the risks noted above relating to the babies’ undeveloped respiratory system, babies born at 33 weeks also have undeveloped brains. This means that if a baby is born at this time, there is a greater risk of them developing behavioral and/or learning difficulties.


The fact that premature babies are not fully developed has now been ascertained. Another vital system for human health, the immune system, is also underdeveloped at this time, leading to a greater risk of an infection. Due to the fact that premature babies often require medical and/or surgical exposure, there are numerous avenues in which an infection can assault the baby, be it via the feeding tube, a surgical incision, et cetera, as well as the fact that they will likely have to spend an extended amount of time in the hospital, where sick people reside.

What Kind of Care Will My Baby Need If Premature?  

Besides babies born at 33 weeks, all premature babies need special care:

Weeks at Delivery

Care for the baby

Extreme (less than 28 weeks)

Babies born extremely premature will require the most care. If your child is born at this time, they will likely be transferred to an intensive care unit specializing in neonatal care. The respiratory system will not be fully developed, meaning your child will need help breathing. To avoid hypothermia, they will be kept warm. Dextrose may also be administered artificially to prevent the occurrence of low blood sugar.

Very preterm (28-32 weeks)

Babies born at this time will require much of the same help noted above for babies born earlier, but the baby will be more developed, meaning the risks of further complications will be lower.

Moderate (32-33 weeks)

At this stage, the baby may still require help breathing, although the lungs will be more developed. There is still a risk of low blood sugar and hypothermia, meaning appropriate care will be administered to prevent these occurrences.

Near-term (34-36 weeks)

Babies born at this stage will less likely have severe breathing problems, and some can breathe independently. That being said, the risk of low blood sugar and infection is still apparent, and they may not be able to feed efficiently.

How to Take Care of Your Preemie?

At Hospital

  • Ascertain your child’s condition

It is important to understand the situation that babies born at 33 weeks are in, as uncertainty can lead to worry, stress, and anxiety. The more you ascertain about the situation, the better and more equipped you’ll be able to handle it.

  • Remain observant and voice any concerns

If, through observation, you notice any changes in your premature baby’s condition, ensure to tell the team of medical professionals assisting you in the hospital. This will allow them to check for any signs of complications, and act accordingly.

  • Think about feeding

A mother’s breast milk contains essential proteins that help to strengthen your child as well as fight infection. If your premature child is unable to breast feed, it would still be wise to pump breast milk for later use (as it can be frozen and stored until needed). You should also speak with your baby’s doctor in regards to supplementation, which can help to provide much needed nourishment for your preemie.

  • Share quality time with your child

Although at this stage your child is still undergoing care in hospital, that’s not to say that you can’t spend quality time with them. Try reading to your baby, or talking to them in a soft and loving tone. When it is safe to do so, cradle your child, and hold them lovingly in your arms. If medical tubes and wiring are present (helping to ensure the health of your child), then speak with a medical professional to ensure that you do not interfere with their care.

At Home

Keep your baby safe from infection

As mentioned, babies born at 33 weeks are at a higher risk of developing an infection than those who are born when they are due. To reduce the risk of this, you can:

  • Avoid exposing your child to individuals who are sick with cold flu.
  • Ensure to regularly wash your hands to eradicate any bacterial and/or potentially dangerous microorganisms, and ask your family and friends to do the same when they visit the baby.
  • Ensure that you have plenty of tissue handy to wipe runny noses and catch/cover sneezes and coughs. Also ensure to throw the tissue away after one use, and then wash your hands.
  • Ensure to regularly and efficiently clean surfaces within your home, and toys that your child plays with.
  • Never, ever smoke around your child. This can increase the risk of your child developing a severe chest infection, as well as play a pivoting role in the occurrence of cot death.

Tips to Soothe Your Baby

During the early stages of your child’s life, you may find it hard to sooth and/or settle them. This can be the case for all babies, but it is generally more common in those who have been born premature. Ways to calm and sooth your baby include:

  • Giving them loving cuddles, or gently rocking them.
  • Swaddling (wrapping them up snug in a light, thin blanket).
  • Taking them out for a walk with a pram, and exposing them to fresh air.
  • Trying using background noise, such as the light hum of a piece of machinery, or soft music/lullabies.
  • Singing to your child in a soft voice.
  • Applying a soft, soothing massage to your baby.

If you find yourself becoming stressed, then it is important not to relay your stress to your child. Ask your partner or a family member to watch your child for a moment whilst you have a short break from caring for your child, or place safely on back in their cot for a few minutes. Clearing your head will allow you to return back and calmly care for your baby.

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