I am happy to see this article out, but it is nothing that we in the 'alternative' childbirth field didn't already know and haven't already been saying for many, many years. 40 weeks is not a fail-safe date for all babies to be evicted. In fact, the average first time mom will gestate a baby for 41 weeks and 1 day

The fact is, a woman who is going to keep her baby in longer, usually does so because her baby is not ready to be born.  These babies who are forced out have higher incidences of neonatal issues normally associated with preterm births (duh).

Experts Discuss Importance of the Last Weeks of Pregnancy

NEW YORK, June 7, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Every week of pregnancy is crucial to a newborn's health, and today, the March of Dimes unveiled a new public education campaign to raise awareness about the important development that occurs during those last few weeks.

The campaign, called "Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait," encourages women to allow labor to begin on its own if their pregnancy is healthy. It aims to dispel the myth that it's safe to schedule a delivery before 39 weeks of pregnancy without a medical need.
Babies born after 37 weeks of pregnancy are full-term. However, new research has shown that a baby's brain nearly doubles in weight in the last few weeks of pregnancy. Also, important lung and other organ development occur at this time. And, although the overall risk of death is small, it is double for infants born at 37 weeks of pregnancy, when compared to babies born at 40 weeks, for all races and ethnicities.

"Some women mistakenly think that the only thing a baby does during the last weeks of pregnancy is gain weight, making labor and delivery more difficult," said Judith Nolte, a member of the March of Dimes national Board of Trustees and former editor-in-chief of American Baby Magazine Group, who worked with the March of Dimes to develop the new awareness campaign. "When the moms in our focus groups learned about the important brain and organ development that occurs, they were more than willing to put up with their own discomfort so their baby could get a healthy start in life."

Only 25 percent of women know a full-term pregnancy should last at least 39 weeks, according to research published in the December 2009 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
"Women may feel worried, anxious, or simply uncomfortable near the end of their pregnancy.  But unless there are medical complications, the healthiest and safest place for that developing infant is in the womb," said Eve M. Lackritz, M.D., chief of the Maternal and Infant Health Branch, Division of Reproductive Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who outlined the health consequences of an early birth. "Term labor and delivery are not just normal and natural – they're the healthiest alternative for both the mother and the infant."

Information about the new Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait educational campaign can be found at marchofdimes.com/39weeks.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health.  With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.  For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. For free access to national, state, county and city-level maternal and infant health data, visit PeriStats, at marchofdimes.com/PeriStats.

SOURCE March of Dimes

Further information and reading:
On Pins and Needles - acupuncture for induction
Induction Increases Cesarean - the correlation between neonatal issues, induction, and cesareans
Avoiding the Pit - know the realities of Pitocin
An Australian post on Induction
Induction, Encouragement, Eviction


Calmly Chaotic said...

Do you know anything about the stance on twin due date? I have been told that full term for twins is 37 weeks and that they will not let me go past 38 weeks. I am really opposed to induction and unnecessary c-section so any thoughts of not going into labor on my own before 38 weeks stress me out.

Nicole D said...

Hi Calmly -

The reason why they say 37 weeks is 'due' is because the majority of twin pregnancies go into spontaneous labor between 37 and 38 weeks.

Personally, as a homebirth midwife apprentice and doula that 'specializes' in multiples, I have seen many many twin births that go 38-41 weeks without a hitch. In fact, babies are MORE healthy because they have gestated TRULY to term.

Twins don't grow at a faster rate, they don't develop quicker, doctors just want twins to come when their textbooks say they 'should' spontaneously come... and if they won't come spontaneously, they want to help them out. :) So, if you are SURE of your EDD, and your babies are encouraged to come at 38 weeks, you will have babies that ARE 38 weeks, not full term and completely mature. This means they have a possibility for low-birth weight (U/S are not always accurate), poor latch or immature sucking reflex, breathing issues, or other, more serious, premature risks... or they might be completely healthy and fine. :)

As with everything, I encourage you to look at the benefits and risks. if there is a medical indication to encourage babies to come at 38 weeks whether they want to or not, it might outweigh the potential risks... if there is no reason except doctor says they are 'due', that 'benefit' might not outweigh the possible risks.

Good luck!

7wekenzwanger said...

Good luck from me to:)

7wekenzwanger said...

I think it's 37 weeks too.

7wekenzwanger said...

I think it's 37 weeks too.

Anonymous said...

Reading this post made me wonder if you have any information about babies who are spontaneously born during the 37-39 week window. I had my son at 37w3d. (I know the due date precisely, because he was conceived via IUI.) He was 7lb 4oz, perfect Apgar, good latch immediately, and good, quick weight gain. The only apparent problem was jaundice. Do all these indicators of health mean that he was "ready" to come out at 37 weeks? Or was the labor "premature" in a sense, even though we passed the full term mark? And, are there any studies about the possible long term effects on babies of spontaneous labor in the 37-39 week window? Thanks if you have any resources or information. :)


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