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Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas

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Why the Last Weeks of Pregnancy Count 

As you're nearing the end of your pregnancy and eagerly awaiting the arrival of your new baby, you may consider scheduling your child's birth earlier than full term. However, experts are learning preterm c-sections pose problems for both mom and baby. 

 It's often difficult to know just when you became pregnant. If you schedule to induce labor or have a c-section and your date is off by a week or more, your baby may be born before he or she is fully developed.

Your Baby Needs Time

If your pregnancy is healthy and you're thinking about scheduling your baby's birth, it's best to stay pregnant for at least 39 weeks. You may be wondering why the 39 week mark is so important. Babies born even a few weeks early are at greater risk than full-term babies for serious problems, including respiratory distress, delayed brain development, feeding problems and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). 

 At 39 weeks, important organs like the brain, lungs and liver get all the time they need to develop, and your baby is less likely to have vision or hearing problems after birth. Additionally, your baby has time to gain more weight in the womb, which helps keep it warm after birth. The extra time also helps your baby stay alert and able to nurse after birth, which some preterm babies have trouble doing. 

A recent study conducted by March of Dimes found that c-sections accounted for nearly 92 percent of the increase in preterm births in the U.S. between 1996-2004. The largest percentage increase in c-section rates were late preterm births, or those that occurred between 34-36 weeks. 

We know you're eagerly awaiting your bundle of joy. But make sure you talk to your health care provider before scheduling your baby's birth to ensure both you and your baby are happy and healthy. For more information on the March of Dimes 39 Weeks initiative, please visit their website.