Doctors urge pregnant moms to delay labor for healthier babies

Doctors urge pregnant moms to delay labor for healthier babies

Posted:
Now, many hospitals are embracing new research that shows inducing labor early could lead to big problems for both mother and child. Now, many hospitals are embracing new research that shows inducing labor early could lead to big problems for both mother and child.
"The need to be sure that this intervention was not causing any harm for the mother and the baby was important," Dr. O'Kelley said. "The need to be sure that this intervention was not causing any harm for the mother and the baby was important," Dr. O'Kelley said.

By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A trend in the way many babies are delivered is on the decline.

Now, many hospitals are embracing new research that shows inducing labor early could lead to big problems for both mother and child.

One doctor says getting to choose your child's birthday is, in most cases, a terrible idea.

The March of Dimes is behind a campaign called "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait."

The goal is to reduce the number of babies born too soon through elective induced labor or C-section when there's no medical reason to do that. New research shows it can put the baby at risk for short and long term problems.

Seven-week-old Emma Grace came into the world at Parkwest Hospital right on time at 39 weeks. She's the fifth child for Cheryl Miller.

"I'm 40 and I do not want anymore!" she said.

Miller decided to have her labor induced so that she could have a sterilization procedure right after delivery.

"It was just best to do it all at once," Miller said.

Dr. Kenneth O'Kelley of Generations OB/GYN agreed to induce, but only at 39 weeks, not before.

"The need to be sure that this intervention was not causing any harm for the mother and the baby was important," Dr. O'Kelley said.

Miller wanted to wait for safest date for induction, but not every expectant Tennessee mom does. And that's causing problems.

The state health department says nearly one in three babies is born at 37 or 38 weeks. That used to be considered full term.

But new information shows babies need at least 39 weeks to grow and develop. Researchers say Weeks 35 to 39 are crucial for brain growth.

And if labor is induced early, the baby can be born with a greater chance of respiratory distress, vision problems and a host of other complications.

According to the Tennessee Hospital Association, that new information has changed delivery methods at more than 30 hospitals in our state.

Some are voluntarily opting out of any elective deliveries unless it's absolutely necessary.

Parkwest began reducing elective inductions and C-sections in 2009 and has seen a sharp decline in the number of those since.

But there are several complications that could mean elective delivery is a must, among them, if a mother has high blood pressure or tests show the baby isn't growing at the expected rate.

But every case is different and if you have questions, be sure to ask your doctor.

For more information on waiting for labor and healthy babies, visit the Healthy Tennessee Babies website.

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