Scheduling baby's birth early can be a health risk

WILMINGTON (WECT) – Mothers may think they are ready to meet their new baby, but hospitals across North Carolina say, there is no reason to rush.

More women have been scheduling their delivery days, sometimes to fit in plans, without a medical purpose.

The Prenatal Quality Collaborative of NC began a state-wide initiative in 2007 to help improve pregnancy health for both mothers and babies.

Called "39 Weeks," the project networks 40 hospitals whose staff agreed to study how many births were being performed early without medical reason at their facility.

According to the PQCNC, every year, over 17,000 babies are born before full-term (39 weeks). Those infants are at an increased risk of respiratory and brain issues, in addition to other health concerns.

The project found that most early births are arranged for convenience or family matters.

"I want my baby born on my mom's birthday, or my husband's going to be gone for a few days and I want to make sure that he's here," explained Barbara Buechler, the Administrator of the Women's and Children's Hospital. "We even see it with our military families when there is going to be a deployment."

Families coming to New Hanover Regional Medical Center are now getting extra support to go full-term thanks to "39 Weeks."

"I'm not sure that everyone understands how important it is for the baby to be born when the baby is ready, and not when mommy to ready not to be pregnant anymore," said Buechler.

"39 Weeks" focuses on what's called "elective births" – those induced or early cesarean section deliveries.

The plan seems to be working at New Hanover Regional. The number of scheduled stork visits is down from 18% to 3% over the two years they have been involved.

"You've got to remember that that's the most natural way," said Lydia Wright, a Maternal and fetal medical specialist. "That's mother nature's way."

Click here for information about PQCNC and the "39 Weeks" project.

Click here for more information about the Women's and Children's Hospital.

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