• Kristina Mulligan

Weighing Babies in Grams

In addition to being classified by gestational age, which I’ll discuss a bit more later this month, premature babies are grouped based on their birth weight in grams, which the NICU uses as the unit of measure for weight. The classifications are: Low Birth Weight (LBW) - less than 2500 grams, Very Low Birth Weight (VLBW) - less than 1500 grams, Extremely Low Birth Weight (ELBW) - less than 1000 grams.

Flynn was born weighing 2lbs, 3oz, which is about 990 grams, placing him in the ELBW category. In his first few days, his weight decreased to 1lb, 15oz which was pretty scary for us, even though this is pretty typical of babies born at any gestation, and it’s mostly water weight.

It’s hard to put into words how small a two pound baby truly is. To me, he felt weightless and I could support both his head and bottom in the same hand. His head easily fit in my palm, his bottom on three of my fingers, his whole foot was no bigger than the tip of my thumb, and his tiny hand wrapped just about halfway around my pinky. This may not mean much to you, without knowing how big my hands and fingers are. It’s difficult to picture.

But, next time you’re holding a liter of Coke (or Pepsi or water) take a minute to think about the weight and know that Flynn weighed less than the bottle you’re lifting with ease. A human was so tiny, that a bottled beverage weighed more. If you haven’t been there, just take a moment to imagine that.

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