time your delivery

Time Your Delivery

There was a time when pregnant women had little say about when they gave birth. Inevitably, the baby would come at the most inconvenient time.

Because of this, there’s a growing trend for women to schedule their baby’s birth. While this may be more convenient, there are many reasons to let nature take its course.

Shailen Shah, MD, Virtua OB/GYN and doctor of maternal-fetal medicine explains.

Reasons to Deliver

There are legitimate reasons to schedule an early delivery. If you have diabetes or vascular disease, chronic hypertension, or pre-eclampsia, your doctor may find it medically necessary for you to deliver early.

But in today’s world, there are also many non-medical temptations to want to schedule an early delivery.

  • Perceived Risk
    There can be genuine fear about a high-risk pregnancy. If a patient has had previous complications with delivery, there is a temptation to deliver early to avoid the potential for a repeat of those complications.
  • Discomfort
    Patients may suffer back or neck pain or sciatica due to pregnancy. When pain and discomfort interfere with work or family, it’s tempting to want to deliver as soon as possible.
  • Social
    Sometimes it may be convenient to deliver early for social reasons. Perhaps you’d like to be able to bring the baby home for the holidays or schedule your baby’s arrival when your family is in town.

Reasons to Wait

If you don’t need to delivery early for medical reasons, it’s best to go the full 40 weeks. The longer your baby spends in your belly, the more time he or she has to develop. This gives your baby the best chance to be healthy and happy.

Babies born at 38 weeks or earlier may need extra time in the neonatal intensive care unit and have a higher risk of:

  • Infection
  • Respiratory issues
  • Jaundice
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Maintaining temperature
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Learning disabilities

In addition, as commonplace as C-sections have become, it is still major surgery. This means extra recovery time in the hospital for mom, and there is also risk of:

  • Infection
  • Injury to organs
  • Risk of additional surgeries
  • Negative reaction to medications

Updated December 19, 2017

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