Babies born at 36 weeks gestation are called late-preterm babies. "More than 70 percent of premature babies are born between 34 and 36 weeks gestation." If you have had uterine or cervical abnormalities, a previous premature birth or are pregnant with multiple babies, you have a high risk for having a premature baby. A baby born at 36 weeks gestation is at risk for jaundice, infection, and breathing, feeding and temperature challenges.
Your baby is more likely to have jaundice if born a late-preterm baby. Jaundice is a buildup of bilirubin that causes the skin and eyes to turn yellow. Bilirubin is produced by the liver and the liver of your late-preterm baby is not fully developed at 36 weeks gestation. Jaundice also can be caused by poor feeding habits in late-preterm infants.
Late-preterm babies have immature immune systems, which can lead to a greater risk of developing infection. Your late-preterm baby might have an infection if she has difficulty feeding or breathing, decreased energy levels or poor temperature control.
Your late-preterm baby has lungs that are not fully developed, which can cause your baby not to breathe well. Your baby also might be at risk for apnea because his brain is not fully developed and he forgets to breathe at times.
Your late-preterm baby might have a weak suck and swallow reflex, which makes it hard for her to feed. Your baby might have a hard time waking up for feedings or giving you clues when she is hungry. If your baby is not feeding well, she is at risk for low blood sugar, dehydration and inadequate growth. Since your baby might have a weak suck and swallow reflex, it might be hard for her to stimulate your milk supply to come in. If this happens, you can pump your breasts after each feeding to stimulate your milk supply.
Most late-preterm babies are small and do not have enough fat storage developed yet. Your baby's immature fat storage can cause him to get cold easily. This can cause your baby to burn too many calories trying to stay warm. Your baby will need to have regular temperature checkups performed throughout the day.