The March of Dimes says early, elective induction of labor significantly increases the chance of complications at birth, and it wants babies to get at least 39 weeks of pregnancy….So do the doctors and nurses at Upson Regional Medical Center.
The last few weeks of pregnancy are really important in a baby’s development. Major organs, like the brain, lungs and liver, are still growing. Eyes and ears are developing. He’s learning to suck and swallow. At least 39 weeks of pregnancy gives a baby all the time he needs to grow before he’s born.
Dawn Hurst, RN, MSN leads Upson’s Labor and Delivery unit. She says before 39 weeks, a baby’s lungs are not ready. That could spell respiratory problems such as the baby breathing too fast or not enough.
“Babies may have apnea or stop breathing episodes in which they need more attention. They might need to be on a ventilator or receive breathing treatments, which largely could have been prevented if the delivery was at or after 39 weeks.” says Hurst.
According to the March of Dimes, in the past two decades the United States has seen a 30 percent increase in preterm birth (before 37 completed weeks gestation), reaching an all-time high of 12.8 percent in 2006. The result is an increase of babies born with breathing and feeding problems that could have been avoided by waiting a little longer to deliver.
Earlier this year, Upson joined the March of Dimes in a campaign to reduce elective inductions before full term, and as of March 1, Upson has had no elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks gestation.
Hurst said, “A lot of development occurs between 36 and 39 weeks, and when moms see the pictures of brain development and understand the risk of early induction, they opt to wait.”
Nevertheless, some moms might not have a choice about when to have their baby. Hurst added, “If there are problems with your pregnancy or your baby’s health, you may need to have your baby earlier, and we can help you with that. But if you have a choice and you’re planning to schedule your baby’s birth, wait until at least 39 weeks.”
Dr. Louis Mameli agrees. He said, “Waiting is the right thing for moms and babies.”