39 Weeks for Healthy Baby

This page has been automatically translated from English. MSDH has not reviewed this translation and is not responsible for any inaccuracies.

Thirty-nine weeks or more of pregnancy is the new standard of health for babies.


Why wait? Electing to deliver before 39 weeks means that your baby misses the benefits of full development that take place in the last weeks of pregnancy. Waiting for labor to begin on its own, naturally, means your baby is better prepared to meet the world.


Until now, choosing to deliver as early as 37 weeks was considered safe for the baby. But evidence is growing that babies delivered this early are missing out on crucial benefits in development.

  • The brain, lungs, liver and other important organs get the time they need to develop. The brain alone increases 50% in size in the last five weeks of pregnancy.
  • Babies born before 39 weeks have more health problems than babies born at full term. There's a higher chance that they'll be hospitalized in intensive care before going home.
  • Full-term (born at 39 weeks or later) babies learn to feed more easily, and need less special attention at home.
  • Electing for early delivery means a greater chance that you'll need a C-section rather than normal childbirth.

For all these reasons, it's best to wait for at least 39 weeks of pregnancy for labor to begin on its own rather than choosing to deliver sooner.

Hospitals and Doctors Support 39 Weeks

The Mississippi Hospital Association and the Mississippi Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists both support the 39 weeks initiative. Delivery hospitals in Mississippi are supporting 39 weeks, too. Thirty-six of Mississippi's delivery hospitals – 80% of those in the state – have joined the March of Dimes Banner Program, committing to reduce unnecessary early elective deliveries (before 39 weeks) to 5% or less of all births. To date, more than a dozen hospitals have met this goal and will receive their banner.

Banner Hospitals in Mississippi

Mississippi hospitals which have met the goal of 5% or fewer early elective deliveries.

  • Anderson Regional Medical Center
  • Baptist Memorial Hospital, De Soto
  • Baptist Memorial Hospital Union County
  • Bolivar Medical Center
  • Garden Park Medical Center
  • Keesler Medical Center
  • King's Daughters Medical Center
  • Magnolia Regional Health Center
  • North Mississippi Medical Center, Tupelo
  • South Central Regional Medical Center, Laurel
  • Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center
  • University of Mississippi Medical Center
  • Wesley Medical Center

Mississippi Hospitals in the Banner Program

Mississippi hospitals that have committed to the Banner Program's goals by pledging to reducing elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy are:

  • Anderson Regional Medical Center
  • Baptist Memorial Hospital-De Soto
  • Baptist Memorial Hospital, Golden Triangle
  • Baptist Memorial Hospital North Mississippi
  • Baptist Memorial Hospital Union County
  • Central Mississippi Medical Center
  • Forrest General Hospital
  • Garden Park Medical Center
  • Gilmore Memorial Regional Medical Center
  • Greenwood Leflore Hospital
  • Grenada Lake Medical Center
  • Hancock Medical Center
  • Highland Community Hospital
  • Kings Daughters Medical Center
  • Keesler Medical Center
  • Madison County Medical Center
  • (Madison River Oaks Medical Center ** Change from Madison County Medical Center**
  • Memorial Hospital, Gulfport
  • Mississippi Baptist Medical Center
  • Natchez Community Hospital
  • South Central Regional Medical Center
  • Wesley Medical Center
  • Natchez Regional Medical Center
  • North Mississippi Medical Center, West Point
  • North Mississippi Medical Center Women's Hospital
  • Northwest MS Regional Medical Center
  • OCH Regional Medical Center
  • Ocean Springs Hospital
  • River Oaks Hospital
  • Singing River Hospital
  • South Sunflower County Hospital
  • St. Dominic/Jackson Memorial Hospital
  • Tri-Lakes Medical Center
  • UMMC Grenada
  • Wayne General
  • Woman's Hospital

Talk to Your Doctor

Let your doctor know that you want the best for your baby. Plan for a full-term delivery, and ask about the medical reasons why early delivery might be necessary.

Find Out More


For more information about Maternal and Child Health Programs and the MCH Block Grant, call 1-800-721-7222.

Last reviewed on May 13, 2022
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Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866‑HLTHY4U Contact and information

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