39 Weeks for Healthy Baby

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Thirty-nine weeks or more of pregnancy is the new standard of health for babies.

Why wait? Electing to deliver before 39 weeks means that your baby misses the benefits of full development that take place in the last weeks of pregnancy. Waiting for labor to begin on its own, naturally, means your baby is better prepared to meet the world.


Until now, choosing to deliver as early as 37 weeks was considered safe for the baby. But evidence is growing that babies delivered this early are missing out on crucial benefits in development.

  • The brain, lungs, liver and other important organs get the time they need to develop. The brain alone increases 50% in size in the last five weeks of pregnancy.
  • Babies born before 39 weeks have more health problems than babies born at full term. There's a higher chance that they'll be hospitalized in intensive care before going home.
  • Full-term (born at 39 weeks or later) babies learn to feed more easily, and need less special attention at home.
  • Electing for early delivery means a greater chance that you'll need a C-section rather than normal childbirth.

For all these reasons, it's best to wait for at least 39 weeks of pregnancy for labor to begin on its own rather than choosing to deliver sooner.

Talk to Your Doctor

Let your doctor know that you want the best for your baby. Plan for a full-term delivery, and ask about the medical reasons why early delivery might be necessary.

Find Out More


For more information about Maternal and Child Health Programs and the MCH Block Grant, call 1-800-721-7222.

Last reviewed on May 13, 2022 request edits
Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866‑HLTHY4U Contact and information

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