Scheduling an Elective Early Delivery Is a Bad Idea

Consumer Reports' "What to Reject When You're Expecting" includes some surprises.

There’s a ton of on-target information for pregnant women in this Consumer Reports guide to “What to Reject When You’re Expecting”—including smart advice on why you probably shouldn’t bother getting ultrasounds after 24 weeks of gestation, why you should at least consider a vaginal birth after a caesarean, and why an early epidural may only slow the birth process down.

But for me, the real eye-opener was information on why scheduling an elective early delivery is probably a bad idea. (Births at 37 and 38 weeks rose by 45 percent between 1990 and 2007, while full-term births dropped by 26 percent.) The author reports on new research showing that contrary to conventional wisdom, a helluva lot goes on with your baby in the last few days before the standard 39-week delivery mark: Full-term babies have fewer breathing problems, are less likely to need neonatal intensive care, are less likely to have jaundice and cerebral palsy, have learning advantages, and have a higher rate of survival, among other pluses, than those born at the 37- or 38-week marks.

March of Dimes spokeswoman Diane Ashton calls the new research “eye-opening.” And in another surprise, the moms of babies who go the full 39 weeks are less likely to suffer from post-partum depression. Of course, some complications make early delivery the best choice. But if you’re scheduling merely for convenience, you might want to stay the distance, for your sake and your baby’s, too.