For all pregnancies, there’s an optimal time for a baby to be born. When possible, for pregnancies without complications, being born as close as possible to your due date and waiting for labour to start on its own is usually best for you and the development of your baby. Through research we’re discovering that every week your baby continues to grow inside you makes a difference to their short and long term health and developmental outcomes.
In some cases it may be safer to have a planned birth before your due date. A planned birth is when a woman gives birth to her baby at a specific time, and this could be by an induction of labour or less commonly a caesarean section. Sometimes babies need to be born earlier to reduce the chance of complications, especially if you or your baby are unwell or have conditions that increase your chance of stillbirth. If a planned birth is needed, then ideally this should be as close to 39-40 weeks as possible.
The chance of stillbirth and other major complications is generally very low. The decision about the timing of your baby’s birth should be based on balancing the health benefits to you and your baby with any risks specific to your pregnancy. Speak with your midwife or doctor and decide together the safest timing of birth for you and your baby.