TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - New studies on those last weeks of pregnancy have hospitals adopting new policies when it comes to early deliveries.
Over the past 20 years, the number of inductions - where labor is started for mom - and C-sections has more than doubled. At first, it wasn't thought to be a big deal, but new research changed that.
Dr. Todd Trobough of Topeka's Lincoln Center OB/GYN says more research is showing that, between 35 and 39 weeks, about a third of a baby's brain is still developing. He says the lungs also are finishing development. He says babies must adjust from a water-filled environment to air-filled and they make that transition better after 39 weeks.
The evidence was so strong, the March of Dimes launched the "39 Weeks Campaign." Hospitals responded and, now, facilities like Topeka's Stormont-Vail HealthCare have a "hard stop" policy on inductions and C-sections.
Dr. Trobough says it means that doctors must have some medical reason for sending a woman in for induction or planned C-section before 39 weeks. If no medical reason is immediately apparent, staff will "stop" to examine if criteria for an early delivery is met. If there is no medical reason to induce, they will wait for labor to start naturally.
In cases where mom has trouble with high blood pressure or diabetes, or the fetus shows signs of heart distress or growth problems, early delivery may be a necessity. But, if all is well, doctors say, it's best to wait for the bundle of joy.
Dr. Trobough says babies delivered between 37 and 39 weeks have higher rates of needing care in the NICU or stabilization for lungs, feeding or temperature regulation. The bottom line, he says, is to say what's going to be safest for baby.
Doctors say women who naturally goes into labor during that 37 to 39 week window shouldn't worry - that's usually a sign baby is ready.