Posts Tagged ‘inducing labor’

Why is 39 weeks so important?

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

midwife measuring pregnancy bellyIf 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.

Most people think that pregnancy lasts 9 months. But that isn’t exactly true. Pregnancy usually lasts about 40 weeks (280 days) from the first day of your last menstrual period (also called LMP) to your due date. A first trimester ultrasound can also help to determine your due date.

In the past, a pregnancy that lasted anywhere between 37 to 42 weeks was called a term pregnancy. Health care providers once thought this 5-week period was a safe time for most babies to be born.

But experts now know that scheduling your baby’s birth a little early for non-medical reasons can cause problems for both mom and baby. Getting to at least 39 weeks gives your baby the time he needs to grow.

Why is 39 weeks so important?

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, a 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 who are born too small.
  • Your baby will be able to feed better. Babies born early can sometimes have 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?

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 your 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. 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.

Remember: If your pregnancy is healthy, it is best to let labor begin on its own. If you and your baby are healthy, and you and your provider decide to induce labor, make sure you wait until at least 39 weeks. Healthy babies are worth the wait!

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

It’s important to get to 39 weeks

Friday, July 29th, 2016

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.

C-sections, scheduling births and why healthy babies are worth the wait

Friday, April 4th, 2014

We’ve written a lot of posts about labor and, that if your pregnancy is healthy, it’s best to wait for labor to begin on its own. We’re glad that more moms know that having a healthy baby is worth the wait. But sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder – not just for moms-to-be, but for everyone.

Both of my babies were late, especially my son. (He’s a true mama’s boy and I sometimes get the feeling that he would climb back in if he could!) I remember all of the frustration and discomfort I felt as I reached and went past my due date. But as uncomfortable as those last weeks were, it was a small sacrifice to make for my baby’s health.

If there are no medical reasons for either you or your baby to have a c-section or schedule your baby’s birth, then it’s best to wait for labor to begin on its own. And unless you have a medical reason for having a c-section, it’s best to have your baby through vaginal birth.

A c-section is major surgery that takes longer to recover from than a vaginal birth. And you’re more likely to have complications from a c-section than from a vaginal birth. A c-section can cause problems for your baby, too. Babies born by c-section may have more breathing and other medical problems than babies born by vaginal birth.

All this is to say that if your pregnancy is healthy and you’re thinking about scheduling your baby’s birth, consider the risks. And even though those last weeks can be very uncomfortable, your baby’s health is worth the wait.

Still pregnant after 40 weeks

Friday, June 15th, 2012

past-due1You have waited 40 long weeks to have your baby.  You are ready to be done with pregnancy and meet your little bundle of joy.  But your due date comes and goes and there is no baby.  And then another week passes…and there is still no baby.  By now the joy of pregnancy has probably worn off and you are more than ready to have your baby.  You may begin to wonder if your pregnancy will ever end!

Although most of us focus on our due date, you have to keep in mind that it is really only an educated guess.  It is completely normal for a baby to be born either before or even after his due date.  In fact, that is why a term pregnancy is considered anywhere between 37-42 completed weeks.

But what happens if your pregnancy looks like it may actually go past 42 weeks?  A pregnancy that lasts more than 42 weeks is considered post-term. We don’t know why some women (about 3-12%) have post-term pregnancies.  Frequently, it is because their dates were miscalculated.

Some other reasons you may have a post-term pregnancy include:
• First pregnancy
• History (personal or family) of prior overdue pregnancies
• Baby is a boy
• Obesity

Rarely, overdue pregnancy might be related to problems with the placenta or the baby.

As your pregnancy continues past 40 weeks, it is important that you keep going to your prenatal care appointments.  If at any time it looks like the baby or you may not be as healthy as your health care provider would like, or you show no signs of going into labor on your own, your health care provider will begin to discuss inducing labor.

You may not want to be induced and you may prefer to let nature take its course, but remember that there are things that your health care provider needs to consider.  Your baby will continue to grow, so his size may become an issue.  The volume of amniotic fluid may begin to decrease and the placenta may start to age and not work as effectively.  This can put your baby at risk for complications.  And there is an increased chance that your baby will inhale meconium (fecal waste) during delivery which can cause breathing problems or an infection after birth.  Remember that the goal of managing a post-term pregnancy is to prevent complications and deliver a healthy baby.

If you and your health care provider do decide that inducing labor is best, there are different methods available. You can discuss which option is best for you with your provider.  There may be some risks associated with inducing labor, but there are also risks to allowing a pregnancy to continue for too long.  Make sure you talk to your health care provider—she will weigh the risks and benefits and together you can decide on a plan that is safe for both you and your baby.  And once your baby is born and in your arms, the long, long wait will be a distant memory!

Inducing labor – medical reasons

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Dr. Siobhan Dolan talks with a new mom about her experience with induction. Dr. Dolan also reviews situations when inducing labor can help keep mom and baby healthy.