More women are actually choosing to have their babies early by scheduling an induction or c-section before 39 weeks. Marilyn Herrick with the Dallas March of Dimes said that is a dangerous option because “more babies die from prematurity than any other cause.”
But, it does.
The final weeks of pregnancy are critical for brain and lung development, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
“At 37 weeks, the baby’s brain is only 80 percent of what it will be at 40 weeks, and at 35 weeks, it’s only two-thirds of what it will be,” said Iris Torvik, Vice President of Women and Children Services for Baylor Medical Center in Dallas.
Torvik says the trend of elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy has skyrocketed.
“Most women think that 36 weeks of pregnancy is full term,” she said. ”They don’t realize it’s 39-40 weeks.”
The result is a nearly 20 percent increase in NICU admission: A costly decision that Torvik says is usually made out of convenience.
Doctors are allowing it by bowing to pressure to please the parents-to-be.
“They are getting a lot of pressure from women and from couples who want the convenience,” Torvik said.
And, it’s not just an issue for babies, either. Moms are at risk for complications, too. That’s something Kelly Bennett of Hurst learned the hard way.
“I was very concerned about planning my time off,” Bennett said. “I jumped at the chance when they said do you want to be induced a week early. I thought, “That’s perfect!”
But, it wasn’t perfect. Hours into her labor, the baby’s heartbeat slowed to a dangerous rhythm. Bennett was placed on oxygen, and was minutes away from an emergency c-section.
Doctors were able to save them both, and her daughter was born healthy.