My premature baby’s development in the womb – week 29

If you have been told you are at risk of a premature birth, you may be feeling anxious. Here’s some information about your baby’s development this week.

This information is for women who have been told that they are at risk of a premature birth

If you are not at risk of having a premature baby, we have information for you in our pregnancy calendar - our week-by-week guide to the stages of pregnancy.

Your baby’s development this week 

At this point, your baby’s movements are strong and purposeful. Your baby will be giving heavy kicks, punches and rapid changes in position.  

Your pregnancy symptoms

Dental care

It may sound a bit odd, but research has suggested that there is a relationship between gum disease and premature birth. This does not mean that gum disease is proved to be a direct cause of premature birth, but it is a good idea to take extra care of your teeth during pregnancy.

Some women also get swollen and sore gums during pregnancy because of hormone changes. As well as brushing regularly and flossing every day, it may be useful to visit your dentist. 

Dental care is free on the NHS during pregnancy and for 1 year after your due date. Ask your doctor, nurse or midwife for form FW8, which you can use to apply for a maternity exemption certificate. This also entitles you to free prescriptions. Just make sure you tell your dentist that you are pregnant. 

Other symptoms

If you are at risk of giving birth early, it’s important to take care of yourself. There are also some things you can do to try and reduce the risk of giving birth early.

Tell your midwife or doctor if you have any symptoms that you are worried about. Do not worry if you've talked about it before and don't be concerned about whether you're wasting anyone's time. This is your pregnancy and it's important to trust your own instincts if you feel something isn't right.

You can also call the Tommy’s midwives on on 0800 014 7800 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), or email us at [email protected].

Symptoms of early labour

Call your midwife or hospital maternity unit straight away if you think you are in early labour. It may be a false alarm, but it’s best to get checked out. Find out more about the symptoms of early labour

Your mental health

If you have been told that you are at increased risk of giving birth early, it’s important to try and reduce stress and take care of your emotional health. Find out more about coping with the idea of a premature birth.

What may happen if your baby is born this week

If your baby was born this week, they would be classed as very preterm. If your baby is born now, the medical conditions associated with severe prematurity become less serious or may not exist at all. But they will still need specialist care in the neonatal baby unit. 

It’s unlikely that babies born now will have severe breathing problems that need intubation in the delivery room (where a breathing tube passed through their mouth or nose and into their lungs).

Some babies may not need a ventilator but will still need help with their breathing. Instead, they will have small prongs put into their nostrils or have a mask put over their nose connected to a machine (called ‘CPAP’) that provides air or oxygen with pressure to make the effort of breathing easier for them. Your baby may be given some medicine into their lungs, called surfactant, to help with their breathing. Find out more about breathing support for premature babies

The healthcare team will recommend caffeine treatment to help reduce or treat apnoea. Apnoea is a common condition where a baby may pause their breathing for a variable amount of time.  

Babies born at this stage are at risk of hypothermia (an abnormally low body temperature). When they are born, they will be placed into a clear plastic bag up to their neck to help keep them warm and protect their fragile skin. On the neonatal unit, they will be placed in an incubator that is humidified to keep them warm. 

They will need a thin tube passed through their nose or mouth into their tummy that milk can be given through. They will also need fluids or nutrition (a ‘drip’) through a thin tube into a vein (intravenous or IV line). This will often be into one of the veins in their umbilical cord. Find out more about feeding your premature baby in hospital. 

Your healthcare team will monitor your premature baby closely to make sure they receive the best possible care. 

If you have any questions about your pregnancy or risk of premature birth please talk to your doctor or midwife.

You can also call the Tommy’s midwives on on 0800 014 7800 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), or email us at [email protected].

Regan, Lesley (2019) Your pregnancy week by week, Penguin Random House, London

Walia, M., & Saini, N. (2015). Relationship between periodontal diseases and preterm birth: Recent epidemiological and biological data. International journal of applied & basic medical research, 5(1), 2–6.

Macdonald, Sue (2017) Mayes’ Midwifery. London, Elsevier Health Sciences UK

NICE (2019) Specialist neonatal respiratory care for babies born preterm. NICE guideline 124. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Moschino L et al. (2020) Caffeine in preterm infants: where are we in 2020? ERJ Open Res. 2020; 6(1): 00330-2019.

Ballout RA et al. (2017) Body positioning for spontaneously breathing preterm infants with apnoea. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017; Issue 1. Art. No.: CD004951. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004951.pub3.

Review dates
Reviewed: 23 August 2021
Next review: 23 August 2024