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We know that pregnancy, while wonderful, can also be tough. The swelling, the waddle, the yearning to be out of maternity clothes, and of course the urge to meet your baby, can make us want to just get it over with!
But the list of reasons to wait until at least 39 weeks of a healthy pregnancy to have your baby is long and powerful, too.
In recent years the trend toward earlier scheduled inductions and cesarean sections has resulted in the average pregnancy getting shorter. Some facts from the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative:
Having a baby early for no medical reason (known as an early elective birth), can pose a number of risks to your baby, including:
In response to this troubling trend, the March of Dimes has launched a campaign to reduce births before 39 weeks called Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait™. And recently, hospitals have started instituting a policy of no elective births before 39 weeks. This summer, all 17 Portland, Oregon area hospitals instituted policy banning non-medically necessary births before 39 weeks.
Some of this increase is driven by mothers’ preferences, but there is little question that some of the trend is a result of pressure from health care providers. Choosing your OB or midwife carefully can help you avoid an early elective birth. But if you find yourself being pressured into an early birth for no medical reason, the March of Dimesrecommends asking:
We would also recommend sharing this Toolkit, aimed at helping providers reduce early elective births, from the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative. Finally, while mothers are sometimes reluctant to do it, it’s also often possible to change providers, even late in pregnancy, in order to avoid an early elective birth.