Why Didn’t I Get to Choose an Early Birth, Back When OB-GYNs Were More Supportive?
Medical professionals are trying to curb elective early births, stating that babies who are "cooked longer" have fewer health problems.
Early birth? Yes, please! I would’ve LOVED to shave off those last few weeks of pregnancy. Aren’t those the most uncomfortable weeks of your life? 38? 39? 40? Gulp, 41? You’re huge, you’re puffy, you’re tired, tired, tired. With my first daughter, I remember being shocked that my body could actually achieve that shape. Practically horizontal!
I’m a lucky pregnant person though. Through three pregnancies, I’ve never had a complication. I don’t really even get morning sickness. But with all that good fortune, those last few weeks were still torture. I just couldn’t get comfortable no matter how I arranged my gigantic self. Have you ever tried to watch a movie at 39 weeks? I’d flop myself down on the sofa and attempt to relax. With a body pillow. Without. Using small pillows instead. Throwing small pillows across the room. Nothing seemed to work at that stage.
Then a friend of mine got pregnant. She told me that since her first two babies were each two weeks late and she had to be induced both times, she was having her third child early. Just like that, her doctor agreed to induce her labor at 37 weeks.
How did I not know this was even an option? I’d always heard that at 37 weeks your baby is “fully cooked”, so why wait around?
Then another friend became pregnant, with twins. I was expecting our second child at the same time and marveled at my friend’s incredibly practical pregnancy. She produced two babies inside of eight months. Yes, multiples almost always arrive early and hers were no exception.
It seemed like everyone was cutting out these last uncomfortable weeks, leaving suckers like me to tough it out, one trip to the bathroom at a time.
But now it appears that medical professionals are trying to curb elective early births because babies who are cooked longer, reaching at least 39 weeks, have fewer health problems. Most notably, fewer respiratory problems. A group of OB-GYNs has introduced a new, four-part labeling system for a “term” pregnancy, one they hope will encourage antsy patients (and doctors) to wait a little longer, unless there’s eminent medical risk.
“We wanted there to be no confusion among providers or patients [who assume] that outcomes were uniform between 37 and 42 weeks. We are concerned that by applying a single label to them—the label of ‘term’—some might come to that conclusion,” says Dr. Jeffrey L. Ecker, chair of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (ACOG) Committee on Obstetric Practice. ACOG, and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) wrote the joint opinion paper published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
“Increasingly it has been demonstrated in good studies with good research that outcomes between 37 to 39 weeks, for example, are different and worse than outcomes between 39 and 41 weeks,” Dr. Ecker continued. “Most of these differences involve issues with respiratory development.”
Will it work? Who knows. People love to be in control and there’s a lot involved with bringing a baby into the world. Physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually. No wonder so many of us are trying to make the process more efficient, even convenient. But at least I don’t feel like a sucker anymore. Just an average pregnant lady—one with three healthy kids.
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN