For years, millions of moms have been scheduling inductions at week 37 or 38. However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently came out with a new definition of what’s considered a full-term pregnancy, which is now 39 to 40 weeks.
What does this mean for you? Michael Marcotte MD, of Tri-State Maternal-Fetal Medicine Associates, says that waiting until week 39 or 40 to deliver could save your baby’s life.
Delivering Early: What’s the Issue?
“What we know from evidence is that babies born at 37 or 38 weeks have a higher rate of several complications,” Dr. Marcotte explains. When you deliver early, your baby is more at-risk for:
Your baby is also more likely to go into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Similarly, “At 37 weeks, if you do a repeat C-section, the baby has an 8 percent chance of going to the NICU, whereas if you deliver at 39 weeks, the rate is down to 3 or 4 percent,” Dr. Marcotte points out.
On the other hand, if your baby does need to stay in the hospital longer, breastfeeding may be challenging, because they’ve been apart from you for a longer period of time.
What is TriHealth Doing to Prevent Pre-Term Births?
Dr. Marcotte says the biggest initiative is educating obstetricians and midwives throughout the state on the importance of waiting until a pregnancy is full-term to deliver.
He's been working on this initiative for nearly five years. “We’re in the final stages of spreading this knowledge and practice to all maternity hospitals in Ohio – and there’s about 120 of them,” he explains. “We’re trying to change a culture, where it was considered okay to just deliver somebody at 37 or 38 weeks, even though there was no reason – either [the mom] just wanted to be delivered or the doctor wanted them to be delivered. There was no medical reason.”