Why 39 Weeks
When a baby’s birth is scheduled even a little early for non-medical reasons, experts are learning that this can cause problems for both mom and baby. Swedish Medical Center, HealthONE and the March of Dimes are partnering to let pregnant women know, if your pregnancy is healthy, let labor start on its own. If you need to have your baby early and can control the timing, wait until at least week 39. Healthy babies are worth the wait!
There are lots of important things happening to your baby in the last few weeks of pregnancy. For example, your baby’s brain and lungs are still growing. Thirty-nine weeks gives your baby all the time he needs to grow before he’s born.
You might not have a choice about when to have your baby. If there are problems with your pregnancy or your baby’s health, you may need to have your baby earlier. But if you have a choice and you’re planning to schedule your baby’s birth, wait until at least 39 weeks.
Babies born prematurely (at 37 weeks of pregnancy or earlier) may have more health problems at birth and later in life than babies born full term. The last few weeks of pregnancy are key for baby’s development.
Why do babies need at least 39 weeks?
- Important organs get all the time they need to develop. His brain, for instance, will nearly double in weight in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
- He is less likely to have vision and hearing problems after birth.
- He has time to gain more weight before being born. Babies born at a healthy weight have an easier time staying warm than babies born too small – so they can focus on other important development matters.
- He can suck and swallow and stay awake long enough to eat after he is born. Babies born early sometimes can’t do these things.