Experts answer common questions on pregnancy and maternity care

Q. What is “full term”?

Mom and BabyIn 2013, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine issued new definitions to explain the duration, or “term,” of a woman’s pregnancy.

  • Early term: 37 weeks, 0 days, to 38 weeks, 6 days
  • Full term: 39 weeks, 0 days, to 40 weeks, 6 days
  • Late term: 41 weeks, 0 days, to 41 weeks, 6 days
  • Post-term: 42 weeks, 0 days and beyond

The guidelines were created in response to the trend of inducing labor or scheduling a cesarean delivery earlier than 39 weeks when not medically necessary.

“Pregnant women should look at these definitions as guidelines, not rules, and keep an open dialogue with their doctor,” says Kimberly Campbell, MD, chair of the Department of OB-GYN at Washington Adventist Hospital. “Every pregnancy and labor is unique, but the underlying message is it’s best to let nature take its course unless there’s a medical reason not to.”

Q. Can I use a midwife when I deliver at the hospital?

“Many expectant moms I work with are happy to learn they can use a midwife and deliver at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center,” says Kathy Schaaf, birth advisor at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. “A midwife can be a great option for a woman looking for a very personalized, holistic approach to pregnancy, labor and delivery.” Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center works with the certified nurse midwives at Midwifery Care Associates.

Midwives work with other members of the health care team, such as physicians and nurses, to provide the highest-quality care. Schaaf explains that a midwife will encourage and support a woman’s desire to have an unmedicated birth experience and also o er guidance and knowledge if the birth plan changes along the way.

Q. Will I be supported in my choice to breastfeed?

Kathy Schaaf

Kathy Schaaf

Kimberly Campbell, MD

Kimberly Campbell, MD

“No matter how a mother chooses to feed her child, our team is here to support that mother and serve as a resource,” Schaaf says. In fact, for those who choose to breastfeed, the Birth Center at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center is on path to become one of the first “baby-friendly” hospitals in Maryland designated by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. Hospitals must follow 10 steps to become baby-friendly and support all moms, including those who choose to breastfeed their babies. These steps include:

  • Helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  • Practicing “rooming in” (keeping mothers and infants together 24 hours a day).
  • Training all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement the breastfeeding policy.