What Is Full-Term Pregnancy?

What Is Full-Term Pregnancy?

Doctors are far from all agreeing about the exact proximity of a full-term pregnancy. Although pregnancy generally lasts 40 weeks, its duration may vary from one country to another, and from a woman to another.

Pregnancy is the time needed for a fetus to develop inside a woman’s uterus. A multiple pregnancy occurs if more than one embryo develops at the same time, as in the case of twins.

Typically, childbirth occurs around nine months or 40 weeks from the last menstrual period (about 38 weeks when measured from fertilization). However, the duration of pregnancy may vary from a woman to another due to several factors including genetic ones.

Doctors use weeks rather than months because most months last 31 days, which is not exactly 4 weeks. So it is easier for pregnant women to measure pregnancy duration per weeks instead of months.

Full-term pregnancy refers to childbirth between 37 and 41 weeks of pregnancy. This situation concerns most women: from 39 to 40 weeks 6 days, your baby is considered to be full term, his organs are fully formed and can function on their own.

By Mikael Häggström, used with permission. [CC0] / Wikimedia
  • Early term: from 37 weeks to 38 weeks 6 days.
  • Full term: from 39 weeks to 40 weeks 6 days.
  • Late term: the 41st week.
  • Postmature: more than 42 weeks.

According to some studies, the definition of full-term pregnancy is rather unclear and it’s an old definition based on how babies did many years ago. Even if delivery occurs in general at a gestational age of 280 days (40 weeks), it is quite rare to give birth on the expected day.

Most babies are fine at 37 weeks, generally smaller and skinnier because they have just reached the weight and maturity necessary to survive outside the womb with minimal risk to their health. After that, your baby can choose to go into labor at any time.

If after reaching week 42, labor has not started, get an ultrasound to see if your placenta is okay. Your doctor will assess you and then decide if you will need to be induced.

What are my chances of having a full-term pregnancy?

Most women will go into labor between 38 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. Although most things are okay at any time after 37 weeks. Just don’t think too much about it because you could go all the way to your due date, so it will come when the time is right.

Finally, only the good Lord knows exactly when it should happen. So take a deep breath and don’t stress yourself out. Get plenty of rest, eat properly including liquids, take your prenatal vitamins, and maintain a positive attitude.

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