When I brought J home, once everything settled down and a new routine settled in, we just got on doing life. Being a first time mum, I didn’t question what health professionals said or when they arranged appointments to assess him. I didn’t imagine when I brought him home, corrected age would be something that centred around many stresses, fears and sleepless nights.
The best way I have found to explain corrected age is : It is the age your baby would be, if they had been born on their expected due date (EDD)
J was born at 27 + 1 weeks.
He was due on July 14th.
So when he was 24 weeks and 6 days old,
his corrected age was 12 weeks.
This makes a world of difference when looking at things developmentally, and although after the first few months, when it is more apparent when looking at developmental milestones, it does slip your mind as they get older. Here are a 3 tips from a mum that has been there
Premature babies born before 32 weeks, their growth and weight should be recorded on a Premature low birthweight chart until 2 weeks after their EDD, and babies born between 32-37 weeks, should be recorded on the preterm chart in the redbook. (checked my experience against Tommy’s advice) Once moved to normal chart they also need to count back, marking the weight against age but representing it back to corrected age ( it should look something like this in their red book <- – – – – – ).
This wasn’t done initially until a different health visitor at the clinic noticed, it a good 8 weeks after he came home before he was being measured against the correct age . The implications for me was in those 8 weeks, we had to get him weighed 4 times and I started to stress I wasn’t doing the right thing for him . The frequent weighting was requested by our health visitor for what she perceived as weight gain issues. I found not all Health visitors have a lot of experience with premature babies, so sometimes you need to question things when they don’t feel right for you
2) Development Checks
Development checks are always a nerve-wracking experience for me, I was constantly monitoring for milestones because knowing his start I worried ( and still do) what the future will hold for him. After speaking to other mums of premature babies, I found out it was completely normal.
The key thing to remember when these development checks happen is they measure at their corrected age. When you have these checks, tell them the corrected age as sometimes the information they primarily use, is date of birth and the prem element can be missed. Don’t be afraid to question what age they are measuring against, as they wouldn’t measure a 9 month term baby against a 12 month expected development chart
3) When do they catch up so don’t need to use corrected age?
I still keep the corrected age of J in the back of my mind now. When J was still in SCBU after his time in NICU, I was told premature babies normally catch up developmentally by the time they are 2. I haven’t found this the case with J, and neither has a friend I met in the unit with her baby. Maybe it could be cause our babies were born under 30 weeks, and the 2 year catch up taken across the 24-37 week average, but even now at 5, at most things he has caught up ( although he made such brilliant catch up progress) there is a few things he is still catching up with.
All babies born at term or premature develop at their own pace, give them support and encouragement, and be their voice if you need to be.
Through the stress of looking at corrected/chronological age, milestone watching and development assessments, I’ve turned this around to see the positive.
We are going to milestone watch and stress for the future regardless, it’s what we as parents do. Although by doing the watching, there is a potential that we may identify something early ( which I incidentally did around some mobility factors) and get them development help earlier as it may not be spotted normally until later, which the way I see it can only help them grow to being the best they can be.