Doctors To Pregnant Women: Wait At Least 39 Weeks | NPR

Our family has a principle that we try to follow regarding medicine: Use intervention only when the body isn’t working the way God designed it to work. This has been the principle we’ve followed in childbirth, as well, and though it’s hard work there are clear benefits.


A full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, but some women are now electing to deliver two or three weeks early. Even though 37 weeks is still considered full term, studies show that babies born even a few weeks too early are at greater risk for health problems than those who are born later. That has some doctors campaigning to curb the trend of scheduled labor and delivery.

Pediatrician Ed Donovan of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital says data collected over the past several decades show those babies have an increased risk of complications compared with waiting until the mother goes into labor spontaneously.

“It’s now really well-documented in national studies that the risk of the baby having to require intensive care in a neonatal intensive care unit — even the risk of infant death — is increased when the baby is born as little as two weeks before the due date,” says Donovan.

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