When you are into the last stage of pregnancy, it’s understandable that you can’t wait until you deliver yourself of the burden and get a cute baby! But as the expectation mounts, the temptation may present itself to get it over a bit faster than it is due. Then again, there are outside considerations, like the busy schedule of yourself or your doctor, social engagements, whatever that may arise and call your attention and participation. It boils down to the common tendency to schedule the birth instead of waiting for the pregnancy to take its course – even if it means taking a week or two off the natural time.
Nevertheless, if you do that, you run certain risks which would be better avoided.
Delivery before the 39th Week
According to Scott Berns, MD, MPH, FAAP, deputy medical director of the March of Dimes, doctors used to believe that it was all right to have premature deliveries of 37 or 38 weeks by induced labor. Since the last decade of the last century the number of such deliveries was growing, reaching almost twice the number by 2004. Even now the 39-week delivery is reducing in number while 36 and 38-week deliveries are climbing higher.
But the doctors have stopped thinking it is healthy. Dr. Berns warns that “babies born even a couple of weeks early have a higher chance of medical problems.” Whatever you may feel related to the weight and the volume of the fetus, it doesn’t mean the baby is perfectly ready to come outside. Its brains, lungs and other internal organs may still be needing extra time to develop completely, Dr. Berns points out, and induced labor may lead to giving birth to babies with a higher risk of infections, higher vulnerability to diseases and even early death.
What makes premature delivery so risky?
Premature babies show external signs of coming short of the standard by often being thinner and lighter, they don’t stay as warm as 39-week children. Their hearing and seeing abilities are generally lower. Also babies delivered before 39 weeks are threatened with the possibility of developing grave medical conditions that can get them ending up in the intensive care unit.
If their lungs have not developed completely, the baby can have breathing problems. Feeding difficulties can arise due to the baby’s inefficient sucking and swallowing. Then, such babies are infection-prone.
In some cases, when the doctor feels you may be forced into early delivery by conditions like diabetes, preeclampsia, unexpected water breaking and so on, it may be the only choice for you. Nevertheless, all facets of the issue must be considered.
More than 90% of women nowadays are sure there’s nothing wrong in hurrying things along by a week or two, and they can’t be blamed, says Berns, for it was a predominant tendency of the time; but the number is too great, and now that the risks are known, the trend had better be reversed.
The March of Dimes has initiated a campaign towards this goal called Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait. Its aim is to disseminate the information about the dangers and risks linked with premature deliveries and the special importance of the last days of pregnancy.
A little more waiting put in can help you baby avoid catching infections and having feeding problems – you may have to help the little one to acquire the abilities he or she should have gotten during this all-important last week.