Sooner isn’t always better…
The woman’s body goes through a lot of changes during her pregnancy. Most of these changes are invisible (hormonal changes, increased metabolic activity, etc.), but the visible changes are VERY noticeable. By the time the baby reaches full term, most mothers are eager to give birth–not only so they can hold their little bundle of joy, but so that their bodies can return to the pre-pregnancy “normal”.
But did you know that a longer pregnancy may actually be a good thing? According to a study out of Northwestern University in Illinois, babies born “late term” may actually be smarter than their more punctual counterparts. More research is needed on the subject, but these preliminary findings may point at a correlation between late-term delivery and more intelligent children.
The researchers analyzed the birth records of 1.4 million children born in Florida, and compared the elementary and middle school education records of those same children. They discovered that the children born “late term”–more than 41 weeks of gestation–had higher test scores on average than the kids born at “full term”–between 39 and 40 weeks. Not only that, but the late-term children had a 3% lower risk of mental deficiencies, and had a 2.8% higher chance of being gifted.
Now, it’s important for parents to understand that late-term children do have a higher risk of abnormalities at birth, as well as a 2.1% higher rate of physical disabilities when they reached school age. The physical effects of a late-term birth are something parents need to be aware of, just as they need to be aware of the potential brain boost that could result from a longer pregnancy.
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One note: the study did NOT find a direct cause-and-effect relationship between late deliveries and smarter children. They discovered an “association” between the late-term birth and higher test scores, but nothing more. There could be other factors that caused the brain boost, and the late-term delivery could be just one more influencer.
However, as David Filgio, the study’s lead author, said, “The tradeoff between cognitive and physical outcomes associated with late-term births is something parents and physicians should discuss.” It’s something medical professionals and expectant parents need to be aware of. The late-term birth may not be a problem, but could result in more intelligent children with a lower risk of mental deficiencies.
That being said, a “normal” delivery (at 39 to 40 weeks) is still the best for your child. The human body is designed to give birth after 39-40 weeks, as that is when the baby is properly developed and ready to face the world. But if your child is late, don’t worry! Staying in your womb for a few more days could help him or her to be smarter and perform better academically. While there are risks of physical disabilities, there is also a higher risk of their being born gifted.
The most important thing is that you let nature take its course. Your body knows when the baby is ready to be born, so it will come when it comes. Don’t stress or fret over the delay, but enjoy the last few days of pregnancy. Soon enough, you’ll have a little bundle of joy in your home, one that will occupy your every waking hour and consume your attention. If the baby doesn’t come yet, take advantage of the extra time off to put up your feet, relax, and enjoy the downtime. Before you know it, your life will change forever!