When you're expecting, your due date is everything. It's the finish line to the marathon that was your pregnancy, and can be used to plan everything from your baby shower to your baby's first birthday party. But in some cases, the health of the baby or the mother may require the baby to make his debut a little early, which can naturally cause some parents to worry. If you are concerned about your baby's well-being, you'll want to be aware of some of the myths about premature babies that have been dispelled.

As a rule, a baby born before 37 weeks of gestation is considered premature. And these types of arrivals aren't all that uncommon. According to the March of Dimes, approximately one in 10 babies are born premature in the United Sates every year.

Premature babies, even late-preterm babies born between 34 and 36 weeks, can be more susceptible to health complications than full-term infants, making it especially important for parents to work with their doctors to ensure they are not experiencing any issues with breathing, feeding, or maintaining a normal temperature. Your doctor can help you develop a feeding schedule, and instruct you on how to administer any medication your baby may need once you're all at home. It is also important to limit the number of visitors you receive, to protect your baby against germs which could be harmful.

Though premature babies require extra special care in their first few months of life, they tend to catch up with their full-term counterparts by their first birthday and go on to live happy, healthy lives. And that, unlike the following myths about premature babies, is something you can beleive.

Myth #1: Preemies Are Safe To Leave The Hospital When They Reach Five Pounds


When your preemie baby reaches five pounds, you will certainly want to celebrate. But before you leave the hospital, doctors will want to make sure he has reached certain milestones. Very Well noted that doctors will check to ensure baby is maintaining a normal weight, taking in an appropriate number of calories, and breathing well on his own before allowing them to leave.

Myth #2: Premature Babies Cannot Breastfeed Exclusively


Although very premature babies may not be able to latch on right away, there is no reason why you should give up on your hopes of breastfeeding. As pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon noted on his site, preemies can be fed their mother's milk through a bottle until they are strong enough and ready to latch on.

Myth #3: Preemies Will Hit Milestones At The Same Age As Full-Term Babies


Try not to compare your baby to those of friends born around the same time. All babies, premature or full-term, develop at their own pace. According to Very Well, it's important to measure your baby's development against her due date rather than when she was actually born. But by the time she hits the toddler years, she'll have most likely caught up with her peers.

Myth #4: Preemies Don't Eat As Much As Full-Term Babies

Donald Joski/Fotolia

Premature babies may take in less food than full-term babies during a feeding session, but they usually need to be fed more often. According to What to Expect, preemies will need to eat every hour to hour and a half, compared to every two hours.

Myth #5: Premature Babies Will Always Be Smaller Than Other Kids Their Age


Your premature baby is small now, but soon she will be on par in size with other kids her age. According to Baby Center, most premature babies will catch up in size to other babies their age within the first year. As with everything, there are always exceptions. But as a parent it's important not to force your child to eat more than they can in hopes that they will grow bigger.

Myth #6: You Have To Delay A Baby's Vaccinations If They Were Born Premature


Beginning at 2 months old, premature babies can receive all of the vaccines full-term babies get, according to WebMD. Generally, the only exception is the hepatitis B shot, which is given at birth. Babies born premature will often receive this vaccine one month after they are born.