Wellness

Go the Full 40

pregnant woman taking baby to term 40 weeks

Main Article Content

Why Take Your Baby to Term

When you’re pregnant, your doctor or midwife may recommend inducing labor for medical or logistical reasons. While induction can be the right choice for some women, research shows that every week counts, and allowing your pregnancy to run its course for a natural birth date is the healthiest option for you and your baby.

In a healthy pregnancy, full term is considered 40 weeks. That said, delivering between 37 and 39 weeks can also be perfectly healthy as the result of spontaneous labor, even if it is now considered early term.

Optimum Health

Your baby will benefit the most from a full-term pregnancy. In addition to allowing the maximum amount of time to develop and grow, going the full 40 weeks will protect your baby from the risks associated with early-term pregnancies. Babies born before 37 weeks may be at risk for breathing problems, jaundice, low blood sugar and greater difficulty in regulating body temperature.

A full-term pregnancy also benefits your baby after labor. The brain is only two-thirds developed before 37 weeks, and the lungs, liver and muscles will be more fully developed at 40 weeks, as well. Babies who are born at term also tend to suck and swallow more effectively, making breastfeeding easier.

A Better Labor

Allowing a pregnancy to take its course usually results in a more positive labor experience for you as well as your baby. When labor is induced, you may experience stronger and more frequent contractions, possible complications and longer recovery times than you would have with spontaneous labor.

A Stronger Start

Meeting your baby can be one of the most memorable moments of your life, so it’s understandable to be eager. Carrying your child to term is the best care you can give your baby from the beginning. So relax during those last few weeks. The diapers, late nights and every adorable moment are still to come.

Wondering why else? There are many reasons to go the full 40 weeks; in fact, the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses lists 40.

Interested in hearing more from Northwestern Medicine? Sign up for the Healthy Tips E‑Newsletter for everything from health and wellness ideas to patient breakthroughs to academic and medical advancements.