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Since when is 37 weeks 'full term'?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Okay, so I get that babies born at 37 weeks are not as likely as earlier babies to suffer respiratory problems at birth (though it's not unheard of at all), but I'm wondering why it seems that 'full term' is creeping backwards? And that it seems like I'm hearing more people impatient for babies to be born, doing natural induction stuff, etc at 37 weeks?
The information I've seen suggests that 37-week babies have more problems with breastfeeding, more severe jaundice, possibly more colic, more general neurologic immaturity.
So why is 37 weeks the new 38 weeks? Am I just behind the times?
post #2 of 30
I don't really know the answer, but have noticed the same thing. I work w/ a girl that is due 3 days before me, and she's been saying for weeks that her OB will induce her at 37 wks if she wants him to. I was like, "WHY on earth would you do that when everything is going ok?" Her answer, "my carpal tunnel!" She does have some swelling, but my goodness!

Now that I am 37w, people have started calling to ask if I'm in labor... I'm like, I hope not!
post #3 of 30
Originally Posted by ccohenou View Post
The information I've seen suggests that 37-week babies have more problems with breastfeeding, more severe jaundice, possibly more colic, more general neurologic immaturity.
Yep. My son was born at exactly 37 weeks and he had all of those problems. Our midwives told us this was very typical for "early" babies such as him. He was a totally spontaneous labor, fwiw, my water broke and contractions began and he was born 12 hours later. But he was not really ready. I thought at first I lucked out with getting done "early" but truthfully the next few weeks were extremely difficult. Next time I hope to go to at least 39-40 weeks and get a more mature baby coming out!

There've been a few articles in the medical literature in recent years talking about the issues affecting what they now call "near-term" babies, which encompasses roughly 35-37 weeks.

It blows my mind that anyone would induce for convenience that early.
post #4 of 30
Good morning. 36 weeks is classified as term. My OB was very against any earlier than 38 weeks. My last 2 were born at 37 and both had jaundice that required extra hospitalization and a bili blanket at home. I would fear that the dates were off and that lung maturity might be an issue. Best of luck.
post #5 of 30
I noticed that it has moved to 37 weeks when I started filling out paperwork for the new pregnancy. Was it at 37 weeks 3 years ago? If so, I didn't pay attention.

Anyways, I just wanted to chime in and say that I would never (unless medical problems existed) opt to have my baby at 37 weeks. My son was born at 36 weeks and 2 days, and it was not a fun go! My water also broke early, and he was here just 3 hours later. He had a ton of problems breastfeeding (he bit down hard the first time and didn't get the hang of it for a few weeks), he was super jaundiced (under lamps for days except for 30 minutes for feeding...I couldn't even get him to latch on in that time), and he swallowed a ton of fluid on the very short trip down (don't know if that was a factor). He was able to come home from the hospital on the fifth day, but, if I have a choice, I don't want to go through all that with the next!

He is very healthy now, nursed for over a year, and doesn't have any preemie problems. I just couldn't choose that though. Has anyone noticed that the preemie age is moving back, too. Last time I checked, Benji wasn't even considered to be a preemie birth (or maybe just barely).
post #6 of 30
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by gothnurse3 View Post
Good morning. 36 weeks is classified as term... I would fear that the dates were off and that lung maturity might be an issue.

Yeah, I guess what I'm saying is that it seems to me that we should recognize the difference between "probably won't need intensive care for prematurity" (like a 35-37 week near-term baby) and "fully cooked, ready to be born" (i.e. 'full term' IMO).
post #7 of 30
when I was prego with dd, I was told 38 was full term. Now everyone is saying 37 is full term.

She will be 3 in March.
post #8 of 30
I've always heard 37 weeks from my care providers -- my oldest is 7. In my province, you can have a mw-attended homebirth if you deliver between 37 and 42 weeks; outside of that, you need to be in the hospital. My dd was born at 37 weeks exactly; she was small due to a battledore placenta (and having a naturally short and slim mom, so genetically she's not likely to be a linebacker), but had no respiratory, jaundice, or colic problems. That's just one case, obviously. But I also didn't have an ultrasound with her, and my cycles aren't totally regular (though not totally irregular), so it's possible that the dates were off. My other two had dating ultrasounds which pushed their due dates back by a week or two, and they were born at 38 and 38.5 weeks.
post #9 of 30
I have been wondering this too..

and I also keep hearing 36 weeks is term with a twin pregnancy...

I don't get it..
post #10 of 30
For twins, 37 weeks is considered ideal, as some study was done that showed just as many problems with twins born 32-35 weeks as 38-40 weeks. Apparently as they get bigger, mom has a harder time nourishing them both (and herself) due to lack of space, lack of desire to eat, greater size pressing on cords causing lack of oxygen, etc.

With this pregnancy, I asked my doc if he would be willing to let me go 3 weeks past my due date. He nearly fell off his chair (but didn't say no - just that I would need "more monitoring").
post #11 of 30
My son was born at 37 weeks with all signs of being full-term and ready to come out. But I learned with this pregnancy that I ovulate very early in my cycle, so since I was counting from LMP, he was probably more like 38 weeks.
post #12 of 30
My son was born at 36w6d (dates were accurate). He was small, of course, but we left the hospital 21 hours after birth. We did have to go back to the hospital in a few days to treat his jaundice, but there were no problems other than that. This was 5.5 years ago, and he was considered term.
I read a book about twin pregnancy a couple years ago. It said that the body has some mechanism to make twins mature faster than singletons, since a woman's body can have a hard time with two babies in the last few weeks.
post #13 of 30
Since the WHO said so several years ago
A lot of UK mums have had problems with NHS trusts defining "term" as 38+1 to 40+6 and trying to avoid attending homebirths outside of this timeframe. There was a study done a few years back which suggests that the outcome for induction is much more favourable at 39 weeks as opposed to 38 or 37.
post #14 of 30
My ds was born at 38w 3d (induced) and he easily could have been in there another 3 weeks (which I felt was proven when I carried DD till 42 weeks). He had jaundice, BF problems, breathing problems and just looked like an alien.
post #15 of 30
hmm, my doctor says for girls 37 weeks is full term but for boys it is 38.5 weeks.
post #16 of 30
I've heard that 37 weeks is term since before my oldest was born. 36 weeks was considered preterm (not premature). My OB was more careful about my signs of PTL with my second since I was preterm with my first. He didn't label me high risk or anything, just took me seriously when I started having tons of contractions pretty early on.
post #17 of 30
It happened when 40weeks was past due.
Honestly, it used to be okay to be 42weeks pregnant and now they PUSH, PUSH, PUSH...

Let women be and let their bodies do what nature intended... I LOTH the medical profession.
post #18 of 30
I think the unfortunate part of this is that some people, like my SIL, hear that 37 weeks is full-term and (first pregnancy) hit 37 weeks with the attitude of "ok, the baby is full-term, I'm totally done being pregnant, I want him out NOW", with no realization of the benefits of having him in there a little longer. Luckily, her OB made her wait until her due date for her elective induction. :
post #19 of 30
37 weeks has been considered "full term" for many years. And honestly, unless you have regular periods and know exactly when you conceived, dates are typically off.

My ds was induced at 38 weeks, after I was on complete bedrest for months due to pre-eclampsia. He was fine.

My dd was induced at 37 weeks, due to high maternal fever, fetal distress, and early labor. She was fine.

FWIW, girls lungs mature faster in the womb, than boys. I've heard doctors take that into consideration when an induction needs to happen.
post #20 of 30
Originally Posted by Electra375 View Post

Let women be and let their bodies do what nature intended... I LOTH the medical profession.
I respect your opinion. However, my family has suffered tragic results from birthing "naturally."

40 years ago, my Mom was pregnant with her first child. She went over due, she thinks about a month and when her body finally went into labor, she arrived at the hospital and the baby seemed fine. Unfortunately, something happened during birth and her baby girl was born stillborn.

My mother's Grandmother died at home during the birth of her 6th child.

And my mother's Aunt died during the birth of her 3rd child.

There is a family history of pre-term labor and several women in my family gave birth early (7 months) and back then, they couldn't save the babies so they passed.

I highly respect and admire women who refuse medical intervention during pregnancy. But because of my family history, and knowing that if these women in my family could've gotten medical care, they and their babies would probably still be alive. I have to err on the side of caution.
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