Mayo and March of Dimes Stress 40 Week Pregnancy

Posted at: 12/17/2013 7:23 PM
By: Brianna Long

Forty weeks; that's how long a full-term pregnancy lasts. But many women actually choose to be induced early. And now, Mayo Clinic doctors are saying that needs to stop.

"I have a soon-to-be seven-year-old. Her name is Ariana and then a 17-month-old named Claira," said Sarah Suhr.

Having already given birth twice, Sarah knows the joys of pregnancy, and also the frustrations that can come with it; especially towards the end.

"The first one, she was born in January. And it was cold, my feet were swollen. I couldn't wear shoes. I had to wear flip-flops in the snow. That wasn't so fun so I was like get this baby out of here," said Sarah.

Since she had her daughters, who were both born pretty close to their due dates, Sarah began working at March of Dimes, helping educate people on premature births.

"Respiratory difficulties, feeding difficulties, and increased risk of having problems potentially like Cerabral Palsy," said Dr. Jani Jensen, with Mayo Clinic.

Mayo Clinic is also stressing the importance of keeping the baby inside the womb for at least 39 weeks.

"Even though the overall risks are very low, they're higher compared to babies that are born at 39 weeks or later. There's also an increased risk of mortality overall for infants that are born in the early term versus the late term gestation," said Dr. Jensen.

One research study put on by Mayo included 650 women who recently delivered a baby. Half of them believed a full term pregnancy was 37-38 weeks. Twenty five percent of them thought it was safe to deliver at 34 to 36 weeks.

"I think there's a huge need to have patient awareness and increased public perception of actually what is a term pregnancy," said Dr. Jensen.

And for Sarah, who is actually now expecting her third baby, that 39 week mark makes perfect sense.

"Even though you might be miserable, the baby's not miserable and you need to know that you need to do the right thing for your baby, not what's convenient for you," said Sarah.

Mayo has actually looked into a new policy called a "hard stop policy" which would prohibit physicians from scheduling an elective induction before 39 weeks.