The complete resource for NICU families from admission to discharge and beyond


At the time of birth, it’s impossible to predict how each individual baby will progress. Any baby born prior to due date (EDC or EDD) is potentially premature and may need some level of NICU support. The more premature, the more difficult it is to predict discharge date. Initially, the best estimate of when your baby will be developed enough to go home is your EDC/EDD. The goal of neonatal care is to allow your baby to develop at the same rate as if s/he had stayed inside you. But that doesn’t always occur. Sometimes, complications demand that your baby stay in the NICU past his/her due date but, more often, your baby is ready to go home a bit sooner.

Typically, your baby is ready to go home when s/he is doing all the things a healthy term newborn baby can do: Feed without the aid of a tube, breathe room air without every stopping (apnea), maintaining a normal body temperature in an open crib dressed in normal baby clothes --- doing all these things and gaining weight. Gaining weight is the ultimate requirement for a baby to grow and develop, and is the best way to know when a baby is ready to go home.

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The timeline for your baby’s development is set in place at the moment of conception, and nothing can speed it up. Nature says it takes 266 days to fully develop a human being – the length of a human gestation. Traditionally, pregnancy is “dated” based on last menstrual period (LMP). In the “textbook” woman, the menstrual cycle is exactly 28 days long. Impregnantion occurs mid-cycle – 14 days after the last period and 14 days before the next one is due – which is when the first sign of possible pregnancy appears. Because the LMP is used as the reference point for the timing of conception, and it occurred presumably 14 days before conception, the due date is calculated by adding 280 days (266 + 14) to the date your LMP began. Thus, a full term pregnancy is 40 weeks from your LMP. The date you are due is called, in traditional vernacular, your Estimated Date of Confinement, or EDC. Because that language is outdated the more contemporary term is Estimated Date of Delivery, or EDD.

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