Traditionally, expectant women are given a due date and a good five-week timeframe during which it is considered safe to give birth, called “term”. This period refers to three weeks before the date, up to two weeks after the due date.
But a study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology states that a pregnancy can only be considered “full-term” -- and at their healthiest -- after the 39-week mark. Thus, those born earlier are said to be on “early term”, and those later, “late term”. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, as well as the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, support this.
In order to discourage doctors and mothers-to-be from elective pregnancy, or choosing to schedule a delivery via Caesarean section, term pregnancy was categorized into four periods (counted from the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period, but sometimes adjusted after an ultrasound):
•Early Term – between 37 weeks 0 days and 38 weeks 6 days;
• Full Term – between 39 weeks 0 days and 40 weeks 6 days;
•Late Term – between 41 weeks 0 days and 41 weeks 6 days;