- In recent years, some women have been electing not to wait for full-term pregnancy, but to birth their babies early, for non-medical reasons, such as convenience or fear of a big baby.This worrying trend leads to a plethora of increased perceived risks and health problems for both pregnant mothers and babies. This is certainly something you don’t want to be worrying about during the birth, or recovering from after the birth.The babymoon should be a special bonding time with lots of snuggles and cuddles with mom and the family, without worrying about pain or illness.Many factors come into play during pregnancies, but if you’ve done some good research on active birth during pregnancy, you’ll know a thing or two about how to labor in a way that is easiest for your body and your baby’s body.If your doctor recommends having your baby before 39 weeks, question it. Ask whether there is a problem with your health or your baby’s health that makes it necessary to give birth early rather than wait for baby to choose the birth date.Before you decide to induce — emergencies aside — here are 40 reasons to give your baby 40 weeks of pregnancy or more to be born healthy.
40 Reasons to give baby 40 weeks of pregnancy
#1. Babies born at 40 weeks are better able to suck and swallow, thanks to their more advanced muscle development
#2. This sucking and swallowing will aid breastfeeding, which will, in turn, build a strong bond between you and baby
#3. Babies born at 40 weeks are better able to control their own body temperature — this is partly due to the extra fat they have
#4. Generally speaking, the longer the pregnancy lasts the more time in the womb; this usually means less time in hospital
#5. Normal brain development accelerates during the last five weeks of pregnancy, including post term; let your baby’s brain finish developing as the baby grows
#6. Most babies bulk up during the last few weeks of pregnancy; this extra brown fat allows them to prepare for birth and the first few days of life.
Babies born at term are less likely to suffer from:
#7. Jaundice. An excess of bilirubin in the blood can cause the skin and eyes to look yellow. The liver removes bilirubin from the blood. A premature baby is at higher risk of suffering from jaundice because his liver might not be fully developed
#8. Respiratory problems. While in utero, your baby’s lungs are filled with fluid that helps them to grow and develop. At the end of the pregnancy, and during the birth, this fluid is absorbed or expelled to prepare the lungs for inhaling oxygen. Premature babies are more likely to suffer respiratory problems because their lungs might not be fully developed at the time of giving birth
#9. Seizures. Premature babies have an increased risk of seizures during their first few days of life. They are also more likely to suffer from epilepsy and other seizure conditions in later life. Pre-term birth has also been linked with epilepsy
#10. Brain hemorrhages. Intraventricular hemorrhages are common in premature babies. While most will disappear without treatment, some can cause more serious complications
#11. Hearing problems. Premature babies have an increased risk of developing hearing problems. This could be because they are born before their hearing has fully developed, leaving them more sensitive to noise than full term babies
#12. Low blood sugar. During the last few months of pregnancy, the baby builds a store of glycogen to regulate blood sugar. Premature babies are at risk of low blood sugar because they might not have had time to build adequate stores of glycogen
#13. Cerebral palsy. Although risk factors do not cause cerebral palsy, the presence of some risk factors could lead to an increased chance of a child being born with cerebral palsy. According to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, one of the biggest risk factors is premature birth (less than 37 weeks).
More reasons for babies to grow to a full term pregnancy
#14. Babies born at the 40 week mark score better on standardized tests than babies born at 38 weeks
#15. Babies born before 38 weeks have an increased chance of behavioral problems
#16. Babies birthed early are less able to stay awake long enough for a full feed.
Research shows baby’s health outcomes are improved with a full term pregnancy
#17. More than a quarter of babies birthed electively between 37 and 39 weeks had to be admitted to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and cared for by neonatal nurses, compared with one in 20 babies born after 39 weeks. Infant mortality rates for pre-term babies birthed between 34 and 36 weeks of pregnancy are four times higher than rates for infants born at full term
#18. Research shows infants born before 38 weeks are more likely to be re-admitted to the hospital.
Reasons why a mother needs 40 weeks of pregnancy
#19. You’re about to be demoted, as someone new and exciting is abut to arrive. Put it off and enjoy being number one for a little bit longer
#20. Use the extra time to take a babymoon with your partner; maybe you could discuss baby names
#21. You’re bonding with your baby even when he’s in the womb. Keep him in there and let the bond strengthen knowing you are doing the best for your baby’s development
#22. You might not believe it now, but you will miss your bump when it’s gone, as well as the little kicks, hiccups, and knowing he’s in there
#23. Make the most of this extra time with your partner; you won’t have much time alone together for the first few months after the birth
#24. You probably still have a huge to-do list to get through before the baby arrives; give yourself time to work through it before your due date
#25. Waiting for labor to start naturally gives you a better chance of sticking to your birth plan
#26. Get some sleep; you won’t have much time to rest once the baby arrives
#27. Seriously, why are you still reading this? Get some sleep before it’s too late! Soon enough the first of your contractions will arrive and labor will begin.
Reasons to give baby 40 weeks – for the birth
Induction of labour and c-section
#28. Waiting for labor to begin naturally means you won’t be induced. Induction comes with increased risk for you and baby, including postpartum hemorrhage
#29. Being induced makes you more likely to have a c-section. Electively induced labor more than doubles the risk of c-section compared with spontaneous labor. The risk is more than tripled when cervical ripening medication is used. Note: not all inductions are the same; having your waters broken is not the same as having medication to start labor (for example: artificial oxytocin is continued throughout your labor until after the birth)
#30. A c-section is major surgery with a recovery time. A recent review of 90% of US birth records found that it’s also more risky than vaginal birth
#31. Allowing labor to start naturally decreases the likelihood of you having interventions and complications. Around 15% of inductions required an assisted birth such as a forceps or ventouse delivery
#32. Being induced can increase the length of your labor
#33. Syntocinon (Australia), or Pitocin (US), is the artificial oxytocin hormone used to induce labor. It produces strong, painful contractions but doesn’t produce any of the feel-good, bonding or pain-killing hormones of natural labor. Experts believe induced labor is more painful than labor that starts naturally. Artificial oxytocin doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier and doesn’t act in the same way as natural oxytocin does
#34. Induction and cesarean sections both lead to an increased risk of infection. As many as one in 10 women who give birth by cesarean section suffer infection
#35. Babies born by cesarean are more likely to suffer from breathing problems than those born vaginally.
Important things to remember in the last few weeks
#36. Your due date could be out by up to two weeks. That’s because a due date is worked out based on averages (a 28-day cycle and ovulation on day 14) and full term is classed as up to 42 weeks of pregnancy. Give your baby extra time in the womb to finish maturing. What you think is 38 weeks could actually be 36.
Trust your body and your baby
#37. Trust your body and your baby to decide when he’s ready to join the world. He knows best
#38. Babies aren’t convenient. They throw up as soon as you’ve finished dressing them, they poop as you’re walking out the house and they want to breastfeed as soon as the window cleaner shows up
#39. Slow and steady wins the race
#40. This is one thing in life that’s worth waiting for. During pregnancy, you didn’t take any pain killers and you avoided alcohol. This is one more big thing that will give your baby a great start in life, and make him strong, healthy and ready.
Be sure to read our article Natural Labour Vs Induced Labour – 6 Main Differences.