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Full-Term and Post-Term Pregnancy

Posted Aug 27 2010 7:10am
Now that I am 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant, I've noticed a pattern to the questions people have been asking me - You are still pregnant? Are you going to be induced? How late will the midwives let you deliver?

It seems to me that full-term and post-term pregnancies are not the norm. I may be wrong but I participate in birth forums and notice that most of the women with estimated due dates within a week of my own due date have already had scheduled c sections or have been induced. Not that I have anything against their decisions, it just makes me wonder. I can see why intervention would be necessary in certain circumstances but really don't understand the point of being induced because the mother is uncomfortable being pregnant or because the obstetrician wants a more ideal schedule - no surprise late night deliveries.

I delivered Nathan 3 days late. After being threatened with induction I went into labor naturally just in time. I was still technically considered full term since post-term (overdue) pregnancy doesn't begin until after 41 weeks gestation. For this pregnancy I hope to deliver before I am considered overdue, preferably today, but I also have post date testing scheduled for the 41 week mark just in case where they will perform a biophysical stress test and an ultrasound to make sure the baby is healthy. At that point, induction may be necessary or I may be able to wait a little longer for natural labor to kick in.

Now, I am not completely knowledgeable of what research has been done in the area of children being born of varying gestational ages with Cystic Fibrosis but, I can speculate according to my own knowledge of science and Biology. If our daughter happens to be born with Cystic Fibrosis I would prefer her to be born with mature lungs and a healthy birth weight. In essence, I would like to fatten her up as much as possible before she is born and becomes entirely dependent on her own digestive system. I am pretty sure her lungs are well developed at this point but I did not want to deliver prematurely if possible.

I am so thankful that I have midwives that are on the same page as I am. Now I continue to wait -- and walk -- and try to naturally induce labor. Hopefully I will be giving birth to a healthy baby girl very soon and will be breastfeeding her. I would choose to breastfeed her regardless of whether or not she is born with Cystic Fibrosis but this decision is extremely important if she does in fact have CF.

In times past, breastfeeding was discouraged for CF because the emphasis was on high weight gain but in the context of overall health breast milk is now encouraged for multiple reasons
  • breast milk is highly digestible and contains its own lipase (the enzyme that helps digest fat) reducing the incidence of intestinal blockage
  • breast milk has antibacterial and antiviral properties (reducing the severity of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections)
  • breast milk contains vitamins and minerals in the form the makes them most easily absorbed
  • breast milk helps to reestablish the healthy gut environment that antibiotics often disrupt
All of the above properties make breastfeeding highly beneficial to children with Cystic Fibrosis. But then again breastfeeding is a highly beneficial form of nourishment for any child.
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