Hang around a very pregnant woman long enough and you’ll hear it, a comment that goes something like this: “I can’t stand it anymore. I wish this baby would just come already.”
In a world of scheduled inductions and c-sections, there are ways to make that happen. But while it’s sometimes medically necessary to deliver a baby before he or she is due, doctors are warning that — contrary to popular belief — it’s not perfectly safe to deliver a before 39 or 40 weeks.
A study out of Drexel University College of Medicine recently found, however, that mothers aren’t very clear on that issue. Twenty five percent of 650 new moms surveyed indicated that they considered 36 weeks full-term, a safe time to deliver a baby, even if not medically necessary.
While babies delivered this early often do just fine, Dr. Alan Fleischman of the March of Dimes told Healthday that an unnecessary early delivery isn’t without risks.
“Everybody knows a baby who has been born a bit early who has done pretty well,” Fleischman says. “But what we’ve learned is that, going backwards, there is increasing mortality and morbidity for every week prior to 39 weeks of gestation.”
Fleischman also says that those last 5-6 weeks aren’t just for packing on baby fat — 50 percent of brain development happens between 35 and 40 weeks. Experts are now calling these early births “late pre-term” to distinguish them from full-term births.
Does this finding challenge what you thought you knew about full-term pregnancies?