It isn’t easy being pregnant during the dog days of summer! My sister-in-law and I are both pregnant during this heat wave. But while I’ve still got a ways to go with my pregnancy, she’s coming down the home stretch and is due in a couple of weeks. But as uncomfortable as she may be, she knows just how important these last weeks of pregnancy are for her baby.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics highlights this very issue. A healthy pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. But researchers found that children born even just a couple of weeks early (weeks 37 and 38) ended up having lower reading and math scores 8 years later than children who were born closer to 40 weeks.
Even though your provider may say you’re full term at week 37, those last few weeks leading up to week 40 are still very important. For example, your baby’s brain, lungs and liver are still developing. In fact, a baby’s brain at 35 weeks weighs just 2/3 of what his brain weighs at 39 to 40 weeks.
If your pregnancy is healthy, hang in there during those last weeks because it’s really best for your baby that you wait for labor to begin on its own. But if you’re thinking about scheduling your baby’s birth (like getting induced or requesting a c-section), wait until you’re at least 39 weeks. The last weeks of pregnancy really count!