Content Provided By The March Of Dimes


When a baby’s birth is scheduled even a little early for non-medical reasons, experts are learning that this can cause problems for both mom and baby. The HealthONE family of hospitals and the March of Dimes are partnering to let pregnant women know, if your pregnancy is healthy, let labor start on its own. If you need to have your baby early and can control the timing, wait until at least week 39. Healthy babies are worth the wait!

photo 4

There are lots of important things happening to your baby in the last few weeks of pregnancy. For example, your baby’s brain and lungs are still growing. Thirty-nine weeks gives your baby all the time he needs to grow before he’s born.

You might not have a choice about when to have your baby. If there are problems with your pregnancy or your baby’s health, you may need to have your baby earlier. But if you have a choice and you’re planning to schedule your baby’s birth, wait until at least 39 weeks. The last few weeks of pregnancy are key for baby’s development.

Why do babies need at least 39 weeks?

  • Important organs get all the time they need to develop. His brain, for instance, will nearly double in weight in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
  • He is less likely to have vision and hearing problems after birth.
  • He has time to gain more weight before being born. Babies born at a healthy weight have an easier time staying warm than babies born too small – so they can focus on other important development matters.

He can suck and swallow and stay awake long enough to eat after he is born. Babies born early sometimes can’t do these things.

Health-One-Healthy-Babies-Why-not-schedule (3)

Experts are learning that scheduling an early birth for non-medical reasons can cause problems for mom and baby.

For example:

  • Your due date may not be exactly right. Sometimes it’s hard to know just when you got pregnant. If you schedule to photo 1induce labor or have a cesarean birth (also called a c-section) and your date is off by a week or two, your baby may be born too early.
  • Inducing labor may not work. If your labor is induced, the medicine your doctor or CNM gives you may not start your labor. When this happens, you may need to have a c-section.
  • A c-section can cause problems for your baby. Babies born by c-section may have more breathing and other medical
  • problems than babies born by vaginal birth.
  • C-sections can cause problems in future pregnancies. Once you have a c-section, you may be more likely in future pregnancies to have a c-section. The more c-sections you have, the more problems you and your baby may have, including problems with the placenta.
  • A c-section is a major surgery for mom. It takes longer for you to recover from a c-section than from a vaginal birth. You can expect to spend 2 to 4 days in the hospital after a c-section. Then you’ll need about 4 to 6 weeks after you go home to fully recover.

You also could have complications from the surgery, like infections and bleeding. So it’s important to stay in touch with your health care provider even after you go home. HealthONE and the March of Dimes advise that you wait until at least 39 weeks to induce labor or have a c-section if it is not medically needed. Give your baby all the time he needs to grow unless there are medical problems that make it necessary to have your baby earlier.


  • Prematurity is the leading killer of America’s newborns. Premature birth is birth that appens before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. Babies who survive often have lifelong health problems, including cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, chronic lung disease, blindness, and hearing loss.

photo 2

  • Prematurity is estimated to cost our nation’s healthcare system around $26 billion annually.
  • It exacts a huge emotional toll on families.
  • Babies born prematurely have twice the risk of newborn death as babies born at 40 weeks.

How many babies are born prematurely, in an average year?

  • In Colorado, nearly 8,000 (10.3% of live births, or one in 10).
  • In the U.S., more than half a million (11.7% of live births).
  • Worldwide, 13 million.

How many Colorado babies are born via c-section and labor induction?

  • In an average year, more than 17,000
    c-sections are performed in Colorado. This is 25% of live births.
  • Labor inductions are not reported for statistical purposes.
  • It’s estimated that three-quarters of premature births occur spontaneously and the remainder result from medical intervention.

What women commonly believe about this issue

  • In a 2010 March of Dimes survey, a third of respondents (Colorado women of childbearing age) indicated that 36 to 38 weeks of pregnancy is considered full term, instead of 40 weeks.
  • Two-thirds indicated that it’s safe to deliver a baby before 39 weeks (if there’s no medical need).Information provided by March Of DimesHealth-One-Healthy-Babies-questions-to-ask

These questions may be useful when you talk to your doctor about having your baby.

If your doctor recommends delivery before 39 weeks:

  • Is there a problem with my health or the health of my baby that may make me need to have photo 3my baby early?
  • Can I wait to have my baby until I’m closer to 39 weeks?

About inducing labor:

  • Why do you need to induce my labor?
  • How will my you induce my labor
  • Will inducing labor increase the chance that I’ll need to have a c-section?

About c-section:

  • Why do I need to have a c-section?
  • What problems can a c-section cause for me and my baby?
  • Can I have a vaginal birth in my future pregnancies?



Lots of important things are happening to your baby in the last few weeks of pregnancy.

  • Important organs, like your baby’s brain, lungs and liver, are still developing and growing
  • Your baby’s eyes and ears are still developing, too. Babies born too early are more likely to have vision and hearing problems later in life.
  • Your baby is still learning to suck and swallow. Babies born early sometimes can’t do these things.39 weeks gives babies all the time they need to grow before they’re born. Talk to your doctor about things you can do to help you and your baby get to at least 39 weeks. Births scheduled before 39 weeks should only be for medical reasons.Help us spread the importance of waiting 39 weeks to other moms-to-be by sharing this infographic in your social spaces.

Above content provided by March of Dimes. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.