It’s important to get to 39 weeks

pregnant woman with doctorFeatured question:

I’m 31 weeks pregnant and I can’t wait any longer for my baby boy to come into the world! Is there any way I can get induced so I can be with my baby?

This is a question we recently received through AskUs. We know how excited you are to meet your baby. But if your pregnancy is healthy, it is best to wait for labor to begin on its own. And if you do decide to induce labor, ask your provider if you can wait until at least 39 weeks.

Why is 39 weeks so important?

More and more births are being scheduled a little early for non-medical reasons. Experts are learning that this can cause problems for both mom and baby. Getting to at least 39 weeks gives your baby the time he needs to grow. Here’s why your baby needs 39 weeks:

  • Important organs, like his brain, lungs and liver, get the time they need to develop. At 35 weeks, baby’s brain weighs just two-thirds of what it does at 39 weeks.
  • There is more time to gain weight. Babies born at a healthy weight have an easier time staying warm than babies born too small.
  • Your baby will be able to feed better. Babies born early can sometimes have a difficulties with sucking, swallowing, and staying awake long enough to eat.
  • Your baby is less likely to have vision and hearing problems after birth.

Why can scheduling an early birth cause problems for me and my baby?

There are some risks associated with inducing labor:

  • Your due date may not be exactly right. Even with an ultrasound, your due date can be off by as much as 2 weeks. If you schedule an induction and your due date is wrong, your baby may be born too early.
  • Pitocin, the medication used to induce labor, can make contractions very strong and lower your baby’s heart rate.
  • You and your baby have a higher risk of infection if labor doesn’t begin soon after your water breaks.
  • If the medications used to induce labor do not work, you may need to have a c-section.

What if there are problems with my pregnancy?

You may not have a choice about when to have your baby. Your provider may need to induce labor to help keep you and your baby safe. Some medical reasons to induce a pregnancy include:

If your provider does decide to induce labor for the health and safety of you and your baby, you can learn more about how labor is induced on our website.

If your pregnancy is healthy, it is best to let labor begin on its own. If your labor does need to be induced, and you and your baby are healthy, make sure you wait until at least 39 weeks. Healthy babies are worth the wait!

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply