What is the safest point in pregnancy for the baby to be born?

Just as infants reach developmental milestones — like rolling over or crawling — at different times, every baby is ready to be born at a slightly different time. The most reliable sign that the baby is ready is when labor starts on its own and mom has reached full-term pregnancy (39 or more weeks).

Full-term has traditionally been defined as any time between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy, with your estimated due date at 40 weeks near the middle of this window.

However, more and more research shows that babies born during the 37th and 38th weeks of pregnancy, whether labor started on its own or was induced, face a higher risk of several health problems, compared with babies born at or after 39 weeks of pregnancy. Therefore, labor induction or planned cesarean surgery should never be used before 39 weeks unless there is a clear medical reason.

Though still low, the risk of stillbirth or newborn death begins to rise around 41 weeks (“late term”) and rises significantly after 42 weeks (“post term”), so most maternity care providers will offer to induce labor in women approaching 42 weeks.