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<39 Weeks - Timing is Everything

Excited and worried about your upcoming delivery? Thinking about having a c-section or getting induced? Have you thought about scheduling your delivery? Take a look to find out why Timing is Everything...

Test Your Knowledge

Answers are provided at the bottom of this page.

1. When is a baby at full term?
a. 34-36 weeks
b. 37-38 weeks 
c. 39-40 weeks
d. 41-42 weeks

2. When is it safe to have your baby?
a. Between 34-36 weeks
b. Between 37-38 weeks
c. Between 39-40 weeks
d. Between 41-42 weeks

Experts are learning that births before 39 weeks can be bad for your baby. It's best to stay pregnant for at least 39 weeks or wait for labor to begin on its own.

What's So Important About 39 Weeks?

  • Important brain and lung growth occurs later in pregnancy.
  • So if your baby is not given enough time to mature fully then he/she can have health problems at birth or later in life.
  • The earlier babies are born, the more health problems and risks they face.
  • Even babies born at 36-38 weeks have higher risks for health problems than full term babies. These include increased risk for:
    • Brain injury
    • Breathing problems
    • Hearing and vision problems
    • Trouble controlling their temperature
    • Feeding and sucking problems
    • Neonatal intensive care (NICU) admission
    • Difficulty staying awake
    • Jaundice
    • Obesity later in childhood
    • Behavioral problems, such as ADHD.
    • Special education when they start school.

What Do the Experts Say?

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) cautions against the use of scheduled deliveries before 39 weeks unless medically necessary.

March of Dimes recommends waiting to at least 39 weeks to have your baby to allow him/her plenty of time to grow.

What Causes A Baby To Be Born Premature?

  • There are many factors that can lead to a premature infant, from smoking in pregnancy to being overweight.
  • However, experts suggest that one of the common causes of premature infant births is scheduled cesarean sections or inductions in the last few weeks of pregnancy - before 39 weeks.
  • Sometimes your due date might be off by 2 weeks. Then, if you schedule your c-section or induction and your due date is off, you might be having your baby too early.

What Can You Do?

  • Allow your labor to start naturally.
  • If you decide to schedule your delivery, wait to at least 39 weeks to have your baby.
  • If you have a healthy pregnancy with no medical reasons that make an early delivery necessary, wait until at least 39 weeks to schedule your baby's birth.
  • Talk with your doctor about your options.
  • Questions to ask your doctor:
    • Do I have any conditions that may cause me to have my baby early?
    • Can I wait until 39 weeks to have my baby?
    • Why might I need to induce my labor or have a c-section?
    • What types of risks are involved in these procedures?

Consider the risks and benefits of scheduling your delivery. Remember the best outcomes are seen for babies born at 39 to 40 weeks!

Facts About Alabama's Premature Births

  • Alabama has one of the highest rates of infant deaths.
  • Prematurity is the second leading contributing factor to those deaths.
  • Preterm births occur before 37 weeks; 16 percent of birth in Alabama are preterm.
  • But there's growing concern for early term births - infants born between 37-38 weeks.
    • Babies born between 37-38 weeks make up 30.7 percent of births in Alabama.

Resources

Test Your Knowledge Answers

Correct Answers: 1. c. 2. c.


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