Listen up, ladies with babies! The definition of full-term pregnancy just got a rewrite, which means that the "full-term" bundle of joy you're currently bouncing on your lap could actually be closer to a preemie.
Up until recently, babies born any time between 37 and 42 weeks were considered "term," which means they're fully developed and ready to make their grand debut. However, a new definition in Obstetrics & Gynecology has narrowed that window of time. As of now, babies born between 39 and 40 weeks are considered "term," while babies born between 37-38 are "early term" and babies born after 40 weeks are "late term."
So, why the change in definition? Doctors are hoping this switcheroo will discourage patients from scheduling medically unnecessary deliveries via induction or C-section before 39 weeks. After all, some women want to get their kiddos out of them ASAP — and it's important that they don't have their babies too early in order to avoid risks.
"In the past, when a woman made it past the 37-week goal line, she was home," March of Dimes medical director Edward McCabe says. "This moves the goal line."
Hopefully this new definition will stop unnecessarily early elective deliveries, but if you spontaneously go into labor at 37 weeks, don't stress. Maternal-fetal medicine specialist Jeffrey Ecker says that "spontaneous labor set off by the baby is sign that the baby is really ready to be born." Phew!
Source: USA Today