How long should pregnancy last? Babies are not fully developed until they reach at least 39 weeks. Even though babies may be born before this time, babies born before 39 weeks are more likely to have problems feeding, have difficulty breathing, and they may be in the hospital for more than just a couple of days. The last few weeks of gestation are so important for the growing baby. In the last four to five weeks of pregnancy, the baby’s brain grows by 50%!
Sometimes the mother or baby has serious problems and a delivery before 39 weeks cannot be avoided. But if mom and baby are both well, then it is best to wait until labor begins on its own.
The Tennessee Department of Health has partnered with the March of Dimes, the Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care, and the Tennessee Hospital Association to lower the number of babies born before 39 weeks in Tennessee.
Tennessee also joined 47 other states in a pledge to lower the rate of prematurity by 8% by 2014. In 2010, approximately one out of every eight infants in Tennessee was born premature. Prematurity is one of the leading causes of why so many Tennessee infants die before reaching their first birthday.
What can you do to help us reach our goal of lowering prematurity?
Updated October 2012