In the past, a pregnancy was considered ‘term’ anywhere between 37 to 42 weeks.
However, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a committee opinion in November 2013 redefining the classification of deliveries from 37 weeks of gestation:
• 37– 38 weeks and 6 days: early term
• 39 – 40 weeks and 6 days: term
• 41 – 41 weeks and 6 days: late term
• 42 weeks and beyond: post term
A study released by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in May 2013, found that the risk of complications or health conditions in the infant that may cause longer hospital stays are the lowest when delivery occurs between 39 and 40 weeks and 6 days.
This study has been particularly important to OB/GYN specialists when scheduling elective inductions for their patients.
The study findings further support a policy that has been in place at Cone Health Women’s Hospital for the past five years.
The policy states that for women having their first baby, elective inductions cannot be scheduled before 40 weeks unless the cervix is ready, and women who are having their second (or more) baby cannot have an elective induction scheduled before 39 weeks unless the cervix is ready.
This best practice was adopted at Women’s Hospital to better ensure the safety and health of mothers and babies, and to get families home with their newborns within a normal time frame.
Dr. Todd Meisinger is the section chief of obstetrics services at Cone Health Women’s Hospital and an obstetrics and gynecology specialist at Greensboro OB/GYN Associates, a division of Piedmont Healthcare for Women.
Dr. Meisinger is a 1993 graduate of St. Louis University School of Medicine. He completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of South Florida.