Steroid Shots to Mature Lungs

Updated on July 02, 2011
V.S. asks from Lima, OH
13 answers

I am almost 32 weeks pregnant and have developed severe pre-eclampsia. I am on complete bed rest until I deliver. My question is my doctor wants to start giving steroid injections soon to help mature our sons lungs. I have had steroid shots before, but not while I was pregnant the other 2 times.

How many days/weeks does it mature the baby's lungs by? I only ask because the hospital I am to deliver at only has a Level 1 neonatal care unit and the nearest hospital has only a 2. If the baby is born before 33 weeks, we will have to deliver to a city 2 hours north of us. Granted it has a Level 3 neonatal care and is one of the best in the state, but we are obviously trying to avoid this. My doctor said that at 35 weeks we should be ok, but she would like to make it to 37. First of all, I am a small frame and had a hard time pushing out a 7lbs 7oz girl (delivered at 39 week) 3 years ago (granted the 2nd was only 6lbs 13oz and was much easier, but also was born at 38 weeks), If I try and deliver at 37 weeks with the steroid injections (unsure of how many right now), I'm also scared the baby will be too big to pass. Although luckily the doctor is doing 2 NST's a week along w/ 1 ultrasound per week. So I'm sure they will be able to track the weight.

I am thinking I will be delivering right around the 35 week mark and as long as I have a few steroid injections, I am sure he will be developed ok.

I guess I am just more curious as to how many days/weeks this helps the baby develop by? I have heard stories where a pregnant mom had a few steroid injections and delivered a healthy baby w/ no neonatal care at 33 weeks. I have also heard where they have gotten the steroid shots around that time and their baby was in the NICU for several weeks.

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answers from Seattle on

You're not going to deliver Schwarzenegger... promise. On average they help develop the lungs 1-2 weeks ahead, but not the whole baby. But even if they did:

Google Image 32 week premie to 37 week premie.

At 33 weeks, they're about the size of your hand. At 37 weeks, they're still mostly skin and bone, and about the size of 2 hands.

The steroid shots won't turn your wee one into a muscled 10lb 2 foot long baby. They WILL give him a fighting chance at surviving / cut down your time in the NICU from several MONTHS to mere to weeks. ((I've spent the past several months in and out of Children's Seattle. A large number of my friends there are on months 3-4 with their preemies before they can go home, because immature lungs leading to a whole host of other issues)).

You NEED those lungs developed. NEED NEED NEED. Do absolutely anything you can to get them as developed as possible. First step to life is being able to convert oxygen in the air to oxygen in the blood stream.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I would definitely get the steroid shots - the benefits are the greatest for the they are most effective for the first 7 days after the treatment.

here is a good article that i found that gives some great info:

i had my 3rd a year ago (a girl), right at 37 weeks because i was so sick with pre-eclampsia, and she had a LOT of trouble breathing - she had to be put on a vent for 36 hours, and spent a total of 10 days in the NICU. If I had been offered steroid shots, I absolutely would have taken them - it was torture to watch her struggle like that. She is absolutely fine now, but a year ago we had a really rough time.

Good luck to you - I hope everything turns out ok - I'll keep you and your precious little one in my prayers!




answers from Cincinnati on

My water broke at 27 weeks. I had four rounds of steroids. My son was born at 35 weeks. He spent 5 weeks in the NICU for some of his health issues, but his lungs were just fine. He didn't need any oxygen at all.



answers from San Francisco on

Do the injection. It will only HELP your baby----Do it ASAP~ I hope that you make it to at least 37weeks! Saying a prayer for you and your baby....

Take care--



answers from Eugene on

My MIL had these 30 years ago when she was pregnant with my husband (that sounds so weird)! She went into preterm labor and was put on complete bed rest for about 3 months. Of course at 38 weeks they took her off bed rest and it took him about 3 more weeks to come (go figure), even still he only weighed 7lbs. I wouldn't worry about the baby's weight. She is a tiny, tiny woman, but gained 75 pounds while pregnant and had pretty easy deliveries with both her boys.



answers from Cleveland on

Anything can happen but the shots will help. I delivered a perfectly healthy 7lb little boy at 36 weeks who needed no assistance at all, and I know people who have delivered 5 lb babies who spent weeks in the NICU at that point. It all depends on your baby. Good luck!



answers from Boston on

Absolutely NO reason NOT to get the injection. It helps the lungs develop, and does not effect the size at all. Do it, it could save your baby's life.



answers from Cleveland on

my sister had shots and her twins were born 4-6 weeks early i think i cant remember and she was in the hospital for almost a month getting the shots to develop the babies lungs enough to deliver



answers from Lake Charles on

It helps the lungs by giving them a week to two weeks maturity from what I remember from my doctor. Trust me. You want to do the shots, there's no downside.



answers from Los Angeles on

Go ahead and get the steroids. They will have absolutely no effect on your baby's weight, but it can make a huge difference. At this time every day the aby is inside you counts. Most 32 weekers do relatively well, but the steroids can give them that extra help in making him transition well even if the preeclampsia gets worse and you need to deliver ASAP.It might make the difference between needing to be intubated and hooked up to a ventilator and needing just oxygen or none at all. If the baby's born this early, he/she will still need to stay in the NICU for at least 3-4 weeks, in order to learn how to nipple, control body temperature, and make sure there are no concerns of apnea of prematrity (when babies stop breathing for more than 20 seconds at a time because their brains are not developed enough to send signals to remember to breathe). Bottom line, there is no downside to the steroids and they could potentially prevent complications and decrease his stay in the hospital. They are only given until 34 weeks, since the potential benefit decreases by then, as most babies' lungs are mature enough by then. Good luck!!


answers from Tucson on

Thats so wierd my babies were born same week and same weights as yours.



answers from Dallas on

typically, you get two injections, 24 hours apart. girls typically fare better than boys in the neonatal world, so the fact that you are having a boy, i would DEF get the injections, and sooner rather than later - you really need to have both injections on board for maximum benefit. the steroid injections are not gonna cause your baby to have some massive growth spurt or anything - they are going to mature his lungs. i had the injections iwth my first two, they were boys, i ended up carry to 36 weeks with one and he weighed 5lb 2oz, closer to 37 weeks with the second, and he weighed 5lb 13oz - my little girl weighed 5lb 11oz at 38 weeks with no steroids, so i don't think the injections made any significant difference in their weight.



answers from Albuquerque on

It matures the lungs by a few weeks - depends on the baby, but it's absolutely worth it. It's probably not enough that you should consider delivering at a hospital with only a level 1 or 2 NICU if your baby comes in the next week or so, but it will help regardless of when he's born.

Of course... anything can happen. I had twins at 36 weeks (after getting the steriod shots) and one spent 30 days in the hospital. Her lungs were great but her stomach wasn't. And a friend of mine just had 35 week old triplets and they all went home within 5 days. So who knows?

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