According to a recent National Public Radio (NPR) story, fewer women are inducing labor. Over the past few years, health organizations have worked to reduce the rate of early elective deliveries. This is when a physician induces the birth or does a cesarean section earlier than 39 weeks when not medically necessary.

NPR reports that government data shows the amount of “singleton-induced births” falling to 23.3 percent in 2012.

“While every pregnancy is unique, early deliveries that are not medically necessary are associated with a higher risk of health issues for the baby,” says Kathy Schaaf, birth advisor at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center.

In 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 pregnancy. They are:

  • 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

Schaaf says women should talk to their doctor about the guidelines and their specific situation.

Shady Grove Adventist, which delivers 5,000 babies each year, also offers classes to help you prepare for your upcoming birth.

The hospital recently became the first in Maryland to achieve Baby-Friendly designation. This international designation is through the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. It represents the hospital’s optimal level of care for breastfeeding.

“Our team is here to support new parents and babies during this exciting time in their lives,” says Schaaf. “Whatever birth experience they choose, we are here to help make that happen.”