Information for Moms To Be
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Let baby set the delivery date.
- You can avoid or reduce many health risks for mother and baby by waiting until 39 weeks of pregnancy to deliver.
- Research shows that the fetus goes through a significant amount of lung, liver, and brain development between 37 and 39 weeks of pregnancy.
- Your due date could be off by up to 2 weeks, which means if you have your baby before 39 weeks you could be having it early.
Why should I wait until at least 39 weeks of pregnancy to deliver?
- Babies born at or after 39 weeks of pregnancy face fewer health problems.
- Babies’ brains, lungs, and liver continue important development until 39 weeks.
What are the risks to my baby and to me if I deliver without a medical reason before 39 weeks of pregnancy?
Risks to the baby:
- Might need to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
- Birth complications, including breathing problems and cerebral palsy
- Developmental disabilities, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- A 50% greater chance of death within the first year of life compared to babies born between 39 and 41 weeks1
Risks to the mother:
- Postpartum depression2
- Stronger and more frequent contractions3
- Need for a cesarean delivery and its outcomes, including risk of infection, longer recovery time, and the possible need for cesarean delivery in future pregnancies4
What questions should I ask my health care provider?
- Are there any medical reasons that I might need to induce labor before 39 weeks?
- What are the potential complications for my baby of elective induction?
- What are the potential complications for my own health?
- How do you tell when my body is ready for labor?
Last Reviewed: 05/03/2013