Premature Birth Information
A Full-term Baby is a Strong Baby
Babies born after the 39th week of pregnancy have the best possible start in life!
- 39 weeks of pregnancy is the ideal!
- “Full-term” babies are born after 37 weeks of pregnancy
- “Preterm” babies are born before 37 weeks
Why is it important to have a full-term baby?
- Important organs, like the baby’s brain and lungs, need that time to grow.
- Babies need to be born at a healthy weight to keep warm. Early babies might be to too small to keep warm.
- Preterm babies are more likely to have vision and hearing problems, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, breathing problems, and other health issues.
- Even “late preterm” babies (born at 34-37 weeks) are at higher risk of health issues than full term babies
What can I do to try to have a full-term baby?
- Start prenatal care with Doctor, Midwife, or Nurse-Practitioner as soon as you know you are pregnant and don’t miss any appointments.
- Tell your prenatal care provider that you do not want an induction or C-Section prior to 39 weeks of pregnancy unless you or your baby are in danger
- Eat well-balanced, healthy meals
- Do not diet or try to lose weight
- Do not smoke or be around other people who are smoking
- Do not drink alcohol, including beer and wine
- Do not take drugs or medicine without talking to your healthcare provider first
- Take a prenatal vitamin daily
- Get regular exercise
- Minimize stress
- Seek immediate medical care for any infections you might have
- See a dentist: dental infections can also be a trigger for pre-term birth
- Know the signs of early labor
What can put me at risk of not having a full-term baby?
- Having had a preterm baby in the past – let your healthcare provider know if you have ever had a baby come early
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs), Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or dental infections
- Gaining too little or too much weight while you are pregnant
- Having babies too close together - wait at least a year after your last baby was born to become pregnant again - two years is even better
You can find more information at the March of Dimes website.