Hesperian Health Guides

Baby is very small or more than 5 weeks early

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HealthWiki > A Book for Midwives > Chapter 12: Pushing: stage 2 of labor > Baby is very small or more than 5 weeks early


A baby born early or small may have problems, such as:

  • a difficult or impossible birth position (like a sideways position).
  • a softer skull, which means she can easily be injured during the birth.
  • difficulty keeping herself warm after the birth.
  • difficulty breathing and breastfeeding.


For these reasons, it is best for small or early babies to be born in a medical center. If they are born at home, it is important that they get medical care as soon as possible.

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If you must deliver small or early babies at home, prepare carefully:

Have many warm blankets ready for the baby as soon as she is born. Dry the baby and place her on the mother’s naked chest and cover them both in blankets. Remember, a baby stays warm best on the mother’s belly. Keep the baby skin to skin with the mother. The baby should wear only a diaper and a hat. This is also a good way to care for a baby born on the way to a medical center.

Small babies should not be bathed for a few days after delivery because they can get cold.

See how to care for babies that are early or small after they are born.