Pregnancy myths: Sorting fact from fiction

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — We’re looking into some of the myths moms-to-be hear during pregnancy.

Does a pregnancy really last nine months? Are early elective deliveries safe? Is it ok to have one glass of wine?

24 Hour News 8’s Nina Criscuolo got the answers to those common questions straight from the experts.

According to data gathered in 2014, about 8 percent of mothers in Indiana will choose to deliver their babies before 39 weeks gestation, either through induction or a c-section. That number sky-rockets if you include mothers who chose to deliver between 39 weeks and their due date, which is at 40 weeks gestation.

Delivering before your due date is sometimes necessary, because of health complications with the baby or mother, but experts say choosing to deliver before natural labor can come with some serious side effects.

“There’s an increased risk of morbidity and mortality and that’s actually a health risk to the infant for any infant that’s born prior to 39 weeks gestation. pre-term delivery is any delivery that’s prior to 38 weeks and can actually cause health problems,” Dr. Julie Daftari, medical director for UnitedHealthcare, said.

Doctors say babies born before 39 weeks are more likely than full-term babies to have trouble sucking, swallowing and staying awake long enough to eat, develop serious infections, have breathing problems, and have vision or hearing problems. So while mothers may be uncomfortable toward the end, doctors say it’s really best to keep the bun in the oven up until about 41 or even 42 weeks. There are some other health factors and risks to consider if your pregnancy does go post-term.

Another myth is all babies must be delivered in a hospital. Most are, but a growing number of families are choosing alternative places to welcome their babies.

The use of birthing centers and home births are on the rise nationally and in Indiana. Between two and three percent of Hoosier moms are choosing to deliver away from a hospital. This does not include those accidental births in a living room or on the side of an interstate. These births are carefully planned and attended by midwives. Still, experts say there are risks to consider.

“It is important if you decide to go with a birthing center and the use of a midwife that you understand what the plan is and what the plan would be if there are any complications that would arise,” Dr. Daftari said.

So while a birthing center or home birth is something you can consider, experts say you shouldn’t think about having that glass of wine during pregnancy.

Recent research shows there is no safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy. Drinking even small amounts can be associated with birth defects, developmental delays and pre-term delivery.

The same goes for smoking. Smoking while pregnant increases the risk of pre-term deliveries, small babies, development problems. If that’s something you’re struggling with, experts say be honest with your doctors and they can help you with resources to stop smoking as soon as possible.

Finally, in recent years doctors have started to measure gestations in weeks, rather than months. The switch to 40 weeks gestation being full-term has many people wondering if pregnancy is really nine months or possibly closer to ten months.

If you do the math, nine months is about 274 days and 40 weeks is 280 days. But many people don’t realize the first two weeks of those 40 are the follicular phase of the woman’s menstrual cycle, which is prior to conception, so most women’s actual pregnancies will last just shy of nine months. Most pregnancies last 37 to 42 weeks.