Healthcare Tips

The Full 40

March 25, 2021

Women and couples learn pretty quickly that pregnancy is a marathon, not a sprint. Cultivating patience while waiting to meet your little one can be difficult. Then, you reach the third trimester, and not only is your body stretching to its maximum capacity, but your tolerance and patience are, too. Once you reach the final weeks, you may feel as if you would do anything to just. be. done. 

When undergoing the mentally, physically and emotionally taxing job of growing a human inside your body, it’s understandable to be tempted to ask to be induced or schedule a cesarean before the full 40 weeks are up, even if there’s no medical reason to do so. But do your baby a favor and rethink it. Giving a baby the full amount of time in the womb can make for a better outcome postpartum. 

Why is going to term important?

While some babies come on their own a few days or weeks early, and others decide to snuggle in a little longer, it is important to understand the significance of allowing Baby to come on his or her own time. Babies born before 37 weeks are at a higher risk for breathing problems, jaundice, infection, and low blood sugar. In addition, the brain, muscles, and lungs are not fully developed until 40 weeks. If a baby or mother is in danger, or preterm labor cannot be stopped, that is an emergency situation that requires medical intervention through induction or cesarean. But to force-deliver a baby early for convenience is something quite different. 

Besides being dangerous for the baby and mother, recovery from births requiring the level of medication usually needed for induction can be much more difficult. The same goes for a cesarean, which is considered major abdominal surgery and not something you want to opt for if you have the choice. Studies now show the importance of having a vaginal birth if at all possible, as this allows the microbiome of the baby as well as its immune system to be fully engaged. After birth, babies who have had a longer gestation period are more likely to succeed in latching on and breastfeeding. These babies will also have an easier time regulating their body temperature and avoiding low blood sugar, which will make your time postpartum much easier.

While you wait

If you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy, the anticipation — and let’s face it, stress — can be overwhelming. With that in mind, here are few tidbits to think over or schedule to pass the time as the weeks count down. Remember, every ounce of patience you cultivate now will go far in your journey as a parent!

At Hancock Regional Hospital’s Andis Maternity Unit, we put both mother and baby first. While we offer state-of-the-art care in emergency situations, we also stand behind the need for a more holistic approach during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. The last few weeks to term can be difficult, especially if it has been a challenging pregnancy or this is your first baby. That’s normal and OK. It’s our hope that you’ll feel supported enough by us on your journey to wait for your baby to pick his or her own birthday!