Full term?

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MandyMommyto1's picture
Joined: 06/27/09
Posts: 534
Full term?

I'm a little confused ladies...I know I should know this, but some of the mums on my birth board are talking about being full term in a couple weeks, at 36 weeks! I know we generally talk about full term being 40 weeks also, so what the heck is it? I know there's 2 weeks counted in there that you're not actually pregnant if you count from LMP, but I'm so confused about this full term thing. Can anyone clarify for me?

joysiloo's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1054

Medically, full term is 37 weeks. Usually after the 35-36 week mark, doctors won't stop labor if it starts. 40 weeks is the average pregnancy length...with the usual range being from 38-42 weeks. So yeah, it's confusing.

WonderWomanExtrodinare's picture
Joined: 05/26/07
Posts: 1192

What joysiloo said. Smile

Nell4Him's picture
Joined: 10/25/06
Posts: 2455

I think that midwifery studies are actually showing that the "average" pregnancy length is a lot closer to the 42 week mark than traditional american doctors would like to think/say. But yes, according to my doctor, term is 37 weeks. If I were to go into labor 35-36 they might not stop it even though our hospital prefers 37 weeks. Any thing over the 40 week mark is "over term" according to my doctor and induction might be discussed at that point.

mommys's picture
Joined: 05/08/06
Posts: 6264

yep, 37 weeks is not considered premature. 36 would be though.

Joined: 03/06/09
Posts: 1054

Yes, it confused me a little when I was in nursing school and they were telling us that "full term" is 3 weeks before the due date.
I know of ladies who are taking castor oil at 37 weeks because, by golly, they are "full term" (no medical necessity for induction or anything). Yikes, I'm not that brave.

Starflyr's picture
Joined: 10/20/07
Posts: 428

37 weeks is still considered "term", but a lot of more recent studies have shown that 37 weekers STILL tend to have more of the "late preterm" problems than those born at 38 weeks and beyond.

That's why ACOG started not being supportive of elective c-sections and inductions prior to 39 weeks gestation.

Star

heatherliz2002's picture
Joined: 02/02/08
Posts: 2273

I've always heard/read 37 weeks is considered full term, even though it's before your due date. I wish there was more of a range that included after your due date though. For example, if being "full term" was considered anywhere 38 weeks to 41 weeks or something like that. Instead of being considered "overdue" or "late" immediately after that one day that no one really knows is completely accurate or not. Sorry I got kind of off topic there... just my thoughts on it :-).

mandi04's picture
Joined: 08/10/03
Posts: 2272

Neither my pediatrician or my midwife have ever referred to my DS as preterm/premature and he was born at 36 weeks, whereas they did with my other two (34/35 weeks). I don't know if it's different since I have a history of going early but my midwife has always been pretty clear that our 'goal' is 36 weeks. That's the point I can deliver at my hospital of choice and that is the point that if I were delivering at the big hospital they don't have the NICU team in the room for the delivery. I wouldn't take castor oil at 36/37 (or 38 for that matter but getting to 38 weeks just doesn't seem likely at this point) weeks but going into labor on my own at 36 weeks I wouldn't be too worried either.

Starflyr's picture
Joined: 10/20/07
Posts: 428

36 weeks is darned close to term, but not quite there. Probably the reason that they dont really mention it is that *most* 36 weekers do just fine, go to the regular nursery, breathe ok, and have minimal issues eating. SOME 35 weekers do OK and some need NICU, and 34 weekers are NICU/special care admits pretty much anywhere.

Late preterm issues are generally:

Higher rates of respiratory distress at birth due to lack of complete lung maturity.
Not being able to eat effectively (the suck/swallow/breathe coordination is a LATE development)
Being little (weight wise) and cold (as in needing an isolette to maintain body temp)
Higher risk for issues like infection, jaundice, low blood sugars, etc.

Star

ekcanada's picture
Joined: 05/06/09
Posts: 1707

Star - I thought I was in the clear at 37 weeks, you have now freaked me out (thank goodness I am not worried about going early Lol

momW's picture
Joined: 09/29/09
Posts: 5634

LOL! This thread cracks me up. I had baby #3 last fall and I had no idea what all of that even meant either. I kept hearing people say they were full term, I thought that meant 40 weeks when they were saying it so I was like Oh yay, so it could be any day now. One girl IRL was like, wait, I meant I'm 37 weeks so it could be a while. I was so confused!

I had #3 at 35 weeks 6 days, no one's ever referred to her as a preemie.

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

Yep, what all the other girls said! 37 weeks is considered full term... which is why I always thought it was funny that they figure your due date by the first day of your last period? So really we're pregnant for 10 months, not 9 months... I don't understand the medical community!

Nell4Him's picture
Joined: 10/25/06
Posts: 2455

Well, they like to go off of your last AF cause it's easier to date. Ovulation isn't always closely monitored by women. Some women come in not knowing when they ovulated, so AF is the easiest way to get a rough estimation of when a baby might arrive. I just find it frustrating with women who actually KNOW when they ovulate and tell their docs, don't get their due date moved if ovulation was earlier or later than it would have been for the first day of AF's "average".

This last time, I KNEW when I conceived (very few opportunities and symptoms told me so.. not to mention gut) and so I lied and told them AF started on a different day than it actually did.

joysiloo's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1054

"Starryblue702" wrote:

Yep, what all the other girls said! 37 weeks is considered full term... which is why I always thought it was funny that they figure your due date by the first day of your last period? So really we're pregnant for 10 months, not 9 months... I don't understand the medical community!

Medical professionals don't refer to 9 months. That's what the general public uses because it used to be that you weren't considered pregnant until you missed AF (4 weeks), and it is about nine months from that point. So a woman knew she was pregnant for nine months before the baby was born.

The reality is that the first two weeks of a 40-week pregnancy, you aren't pregnant...they just start timing from when the egg starts maturing, and the second two weeks, the embryo isn't attached to the mother's blood supply (just living off of blood already in the uterine lining), so there's lots of room for different interpretations.

LMCH's picture
Joined: 02/05/07
Posts: 2031

"Starflyr" wrote:

37 weeks is still considered "term", but a lot of more recent studies have shown that 37 weekers STILL tend to have more of the "late preterm" problems than those born at 38 weeks and beyond.

yeah, ditto this... I learned this at a course I went to on walking/pre-walking interventions for 0-3 kiddos. late preterm babies can also have cerebellar issues in addition to the issues Star listed above. as the march of dimes preaches, every week counts!