Elective deliveries are trending toward early due dates but according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the healthiest babies are born when they are allowed to develop in the womb for at least 39 weeks. From 1990 to the mid-2000s elective deliveries increased dramatically.
Unless there is a medical reason to deliver early, both baby and mother receive benefits with a later delivery because a tremendous amount of development is happening during those final weeks. A baby’s brain can weigh as much as one-third more at 39-40 weeks than at 35 weeks. A layer of fat will also grow under the skin, allowing the infant to stay warmer after birth. Mothers have greater risk of developing postpartum depression along with more frequent contractions during labor and a greater risk for infection from the cesarean section.
Babies born before 39 weeks have greater risk of developing complications such as breathing problems, bloodstream infections and problems with feeding. When delivered at 37 weeks they are more likely to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit for seizures, heart problems and difficulty breathing.
The best due date is the one baby chooses. Allowing a baby to be born at term is best for both baby and mom.