Why Is 40 Weeks so Important?

COVID-19 and Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an exciting and sometimes stressful experience. Being pregnant during COVID-19 may add extra anxiety and concern for you and those you care about who are pregnant.

According to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), pregnant people do not appear to be at greater risk of getting COVID-19 but may get sicker when infected with COVID-19. Due to changes that occur during pregnancy, pregnant people may be more susceptible to viral respiratory infections. The most important thing you can do is to protect yourself from getting sick. This includes following the same guidance that is provided to everyone, including people who are not pregnant:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before you eat;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Keep a distance of at least 6 feet to help slow the spread of COVID-19;
  • Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue and discard it in a closed container;
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects;
  • Practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from others outside of your home; and
  • Wear a mask or cloth face covering when you are out and in areas where social distancing is not possible.

Additionally, people who are at increased risk of severe illness, including pregnant people, should reduce contact with people who do not live with you.

COVID-19 has challenged pregnant people in a way most have not experienced before. If you are feeling overwhelmed about COVID-19, help is available. Call the Emotional Support Helpline seven days a week at 1-844-863-9314 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Remember every week counts!

Near the end of your pregnancy you may be uncomfortable or anxious to see your baby. But remember -- you want to be sure you deliver a full term baby, if possible.

How long is full term?

Pregnancy lasts for about 280 days or 40 weeks.

A preterm or premature baby is delivered before 37 weeks of your pregnancy.

  • Extremely preterm infants are born 23 through 28 weeks.
  • Moderately preterm infants are born between 29 and 33 weeks.
  • Late preterm infants are born between 34 and 37 weeks.

Babies born before 39 weeks have a greater chance of breathing problems, low blood sugar and other problems that may result in being admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

What causes preterm births?

There are many factors that may lead to a preterm birth. Women who have had a previous preterm baby are at highest risk for another preterm baby. Women carrying twins or triplets or have uterine or cervical tumors are also at high risk.

Other factors that put you at risk for a preterm birth include:

  • Diabetes;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Blood clotting disorders;
  • Problems with the placenta or bleeding;
  • Overweight or underweight;
  • Short time between pregnancies;
  • Late or no prenatal care;
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs; and
  • Stress.

What are the risks of a preterm birth?

Having a baby before your due date puts the baby at higher risk for many health problems.

A baby's brain is the last major organ to develop during your pregnancy. The part of the brain that the baby will use for thinking doubles in size during the last few weeks of your pregnancy. When you are 35 weeks pregnant, your baby's brain only weighs two-thirds of what it will weigh at 40 weeks.

Some of the health problems that preterm babies may have include:

  • Problems breathing and keeping warm;
  • Feeding problems because they may have more trouble sucking and swallowing;
  • Newborn jaundice, which causes their skin and the white part of their eyes to look yellow;
  • A longer hospital stay after they are born or be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit;
  • Are more often readmitted to the hospital with problems; and
  • A smaller and less developed brain when they are born.

Even if the baby does well when born, he or she may have more long-term health problems such as:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); and
  • As adults, they are more likely to get diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.

I want my baby to be healthy as possible. What can I do?

Sometimes no matter what you do, you may have a preterm baby, but there are things you can do to help prevent it.

  • If you are just thinking about getting pregnant, then get as healthy as you can before you get pregnant.
  • If you smoke, stop. If you need help to stop smoking, ask your health care provider or call the New York State Smoker's Quitline at 1-866-NYQUITS(1-866-697-8487) or www.nysmokefree.com.
  • If you feel sad or depressed during or after your pregnancy, you are not alone. Up to one in seven people experience some form of pregnancy-related depression or anxiety. Maternal Depression (omh.ny.gov)
  • If you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, or are hallucinating, this is a medical emergency. Call 911 immediately.
  • Do not ask to deliver your baby before your due date for any nonmedical reason.
  • Get early and regular prenatal care. If you need help getting health care, the Prenatal Care Assistance Program (PCAP) can help you. Call the New York State Growing Up Healthy Hotline: 1 (800) 522-5006
  • If you think you have any kind of infection or just don't feel well, call your health care provider right away.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take any drugs that are not prescribed for you. If you need help with an alcohol or drug problem, talk to your health care provider.
  • Plan your pregnancies and try to space them at least 18 – 24 months apart. Ask your health care provider about planning your family, even if you are pregnant now. Family planning providers

So don't rush your pregnancy. Keep your baby inside until its time!