RadioMD: Staying Well

Pregnant and Tired of the Waiting Game? Risks of an Early Elective Delivery

August 18, 20149 min
40 weeks may seem like a long time to be pregnant, but do you know the health risks assocaited with an early elective delivery?Pregnancy may seem like an overwhelmingly long waiting game to meet your baby and you may consider an early elective delivery.An early elective delivery is a nonmedical procedure performed to deliver your baby on a specific date a couple weeks prior to your pregnancy's full term.According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, doctors have been warning against early elective delivery since 1979. However, some women do not want to wait the full 40 weeks and decide on an early elective delivery at 37-38 weeks.Even though it doesn't seem harmful to induce the labor a couple weeks before the full term, there are some major risks for both your baby and your health.Your baby is still growing and developing organs up until the last week of your pregnancy. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, your baby's lungs, brain and liver are among the last organs to develop at the end of your pregnancy.This means if you do decide to have an early elective delivery, there is a risk your baby has not fully developed those organs and can cause short and long-term health problems.Babies who are also born too early run the risk of suffering from breathing problems, respiratory distress syndrome, eating and feeding difficulties, vision and hearing problems, learning behavior problems and not having the ability to regulate temperature.Why would a woman decide on this type of delivery? Why would it ever be recommended?You may want to have an early delivery because all your family members may fly in from out of town to be there for the birth of your child, or a doctor may want you to schedule a date so you don't have to go with an unfamiliar and new doctor during your birth.A couple of reasons an early elective delivery would be recommended if there is a serious health reason, or unless labor starts on its own. Otherwise, the potential health dangers it can cause you and your baby may not seem worth the risk.What other information do you need to know about an early elective delivery?Obstetrician and gynecologist at CoxHealth Staci Niemoth, MD shares what an early elective delivery is, why some women are preforming them and what the major risks are.

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