One of the new ad campaigns the March of Dimes is running is called "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait" and addresses the misconception that a baby born at 37 weeks is getting the same healthy start as one born at 39/40 weeks gestation.
A big part of their campaign is directly related to recent research indicating the health risks of having a baby too soon, even if you are considered "full-term."
Why at least 39 weeks is best for your baby
I know how hard those last few weeks of pregnancy is. The waiting. The wondering about every single twinge and if today will be the day baby is born. The anticipation of what or who baby will look like. The aches and the pains. The feeling of just being done.
Kaitlyn was born 3 days after her due date. I felt like those were the longest 3 days of my life. How could she not know her time was up? How could she not realize that? Why wasn't she being born yet? What could she possibly be waiting for? And why couldn't I be one of those lucky moms that went in at 37 weeks and spared myself the last 3 weeks of aches and pains and swollen feet and stretch marks.
Obviously, my pregnancy with Matthew taught me a lot about patience in pregnancy. Obviously when we, or my body, thought it was time to be born was far too soon. And everything possible was done to prolong delivery. Every Monday was a big deal, it was another week, it was progress, it was a chance at life. A week meant the entire world. And sometimes I wonder if we would have hit 35-36 weeks and he would have been "pre-term" instead of premature if it would have made a difference in his life span.
By the time I was "full term" with Samantha, I had just spent 37 weeks terrified that I would go into preterm labor and she would end up with a NICU stay. Then, when the p17 shots ended, I was convinced I would go into labor at anytime and was taken off of baby aspirin to prepare for delivery. Baby aspirin stays in your system for 2 weeks. At 38 weeks, I was constantly on edge. Terrified. I thought for sure that my body was just gearing up to create a blood clot that would cause her to suffer from fetal demise. I used the doppler anytime I thought she was moving sluggish or differently. It is the only reason I opted for a repeat cesarean. Even so, we waited until 39 weeks and 3 days to give her the absolute best possible chance at life.
I understand not everyone has the luxury of getting to 39 weeks. And mommy and baby's health should always come first. And no matter what you do to try and get to 39 weeks, your baby may not stay put.
We should all be proud of the job our body's do to create a life, nurture it and allow it to grow and form. We should be proud and supportive of how far we get in pregnancy, and know that it isn't anything that you did to cause your baby to be born too soon if you unfortunately are in that position. We should embrace our stretch marks, relish in the last days of baby kicks and enjoy the awe of impending childbirth.
But, encouraging baby to be born early just because you're sick of pregnancy, isn't the answer. I wish more doctors would educate their patients on why waiting is so important!
Want to help get the word out and give more babies a healthy start? Just donate to our March for Baby's team, Matthew's Team!