March of Dimes has a new campaign to encourage women to carry their babies to full term. Their slogan “Healthy babies are worth the wait,” speaks to the growing number of women who consent to induced labor or c-section before 39 weeks.
The New York Times reports that doctors are delivering babies a few weeks prior to the 39 week mark, which can have serious impacts to development:
With each decreasing week of gestation below 39 to 40 weeks, there is an increased risk of complications like respiratory distress, jaundice, infection, low blood sugar, extra days in the hospital (including time in the neonatal intensive care unit), and even deaths of newborn babies and older infants.
A fetus’s brain, lungs and liver are also still developing in the late stages of pregnancy. These risks do not apply to women who have gone into labor early, but rather to the women scheduling elective c-sections. These findings come on the heels of news that c-sections have reached an all-time high, with one in three women going under the knife when giving birth. Shaving weeks off of pregnancy for reasons other than medical can ultimately impede baby’s development and health.