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Moms-to-Be: A Healthy Baby is Worth Waiting 39 Weeks

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Cigna's Dr. Patricia Stephenson, an obstetrician, talks about how important it is for moms-to-be to wait until their baby is at full term (at least 39 weeks) before delivering, unless there's a medical reason to deliver earlier. There's been a growing trend in the U.S. for moms to schedule births earlier than 39 weeks, either by inducing labor or by having an elective Caesarian-section. Some moms do this for convenience. Many women, Dr. Stephenson says, consider a 40-week pregnancy to be a long time. However, she says that having your baby too soon can be risky and unhealthy for your baby. For example, a baby's organs - including the brain, lungs, liver and kidneys - continue to develop until 39 weeks. At 35 weeks, a baby's brain weighs just two-thirds of what it will weigh at 39 weeks. When babies are born at full term, they have fewer problems with vision, hearing and feeding. Sometimes there are reasons for early delivery, for the health of the baby or the mom. Dr. Stephenson says that moms-to-be should listen to their doctor, but they should also ask "why" if the doctor recommends an early delivery. After all, a healthy baby is worth the wait!

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