A pregnancy is considered full term at 40 weeks. This is the body’s natural time to deliver and allows the baby to fully develop before birth. Some babies will come a little earlier or later on their own. Unless there are complications, most physicians recommend that women wait to induce labor until after a woman has reached full term or later.
A recent study was conducted to examine whether inducing labor at 39 weeks would decrease the risk of fetal death. While the study’s findings did not support that, it did find it does not increase the risk of C-section and may decrease the risk of some medical conditions. This does not mean that everyone should deliver at 39 weeks, only that if a mother does get induced early there isn’t an increased risk to the child.
Physicians still recommend that expecting mothers wait to induce labor until they are full term as long as there are no complications. Each individual pregnancy is different, and your care team will work with you to decide what options are best for you.
Cone Health Women’s Hospital has a dedicated team of OB/GYN specialists, certified nurse midwives and other related medical providers to provide support during pregnancy and throughout patients’ delivery process to safeguard the mother and baby’s health.
Carolyn Harraway-Smith, MD, is an obstetrician and gynecologist for Center for Women’s Healthcare, Cone Health Women’s Hospital faculty practice group. She serves as chief of service for OB/GYN medical staff. Harraway-Smith received her Doctor of Medicine at University of Iowa School of Medicine in 1993. She completed a residency in family medicine at the Medical College of Virginia in 1996 and a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Union Memorial Hospital in 2000.