With today’s fast-paced culture, hospitals are seeing more and more moms who are inducing labor before they are full-term. Some say this issue could be due to lack of knowledge, because studies show only 25 percent of expecting parents know a full-term pregnancy is at least 39 weeks. A full-term pregnancy offers many benefits to the mom and the baby.
Weeks that Count
If your pregnancy is healthy, the best thing you can do for your baby is to wait for labor to begin on its own. Waiting until 39 weeks provides the optimum time for development of your newborn. When a mom induces labor before 39 weeks, she takes away crucial developing time her newborn needs.
Complications with Babies Born Too Soon
Evidence shows some of the most important organs grow significant amounts in the last few weeks of a pregnancy. A baby’s brain at 35 weeks weighs only two-thirds of what it will weigh at 39 to 40 weeks. The lungs and liver are also in their final stages of development.
The need for intensive care in babies with respiratory problems can be twice as high at 38 weeks. If an induction is scheduled just a day before a mom is at 39 weeks, her baby loses an entire day to develop these organs in her womb.
Unfortunately, the complications of inducing labor early can have long-lasting effects on your child. They may have behavioral problems and develop slower compared to other children.
If parents wait at least 39 weeks, they reduce the time their baby is in the hospital; the number of doctor visits; their stress and the stress on the baby.
The complications of inducing labor before 39 weeks not only affect the baby, they can affect the mother as well. Inducing labor does not always work.
When this happens, doctors must perform a Caesarean section. Babies born by C-section may have more problems, including trouble breathing, compared to babies born by vaginal birth.
Some moms have medical reasons to induce labor before they reach full term. Expecting mothers who have diabetes, hypertension, or other conditions, sometimes have to give birth before 39 weeks.
Under these conditions, doctors have medical concerns and need to induce an early labor for the safety of the mother and the baby. The best thing you can do for your unborn baby is talk to your doctor to discuss the delivery process and when it is acceptable for you to give birth.
You want your birthing experience to be as special and as stress-free as possible. One of the best ways to ensure this happens is to patiently wait for your baby to arrive. The right time to deliver is when your baby is ready.
For more information, please visit the OSF St. Joseph Birthing Center website.
Last Updated: December 15, 2015