Extra babies in December?

There was a wonderful article in the Wall Street Journal about the fact that some families and OBs schedule more  inductions or cesareans in December.   With the holidays and the tax breaks it seems harmless.  But the article, Why Every Week of Pregnancy Counts helps explain why it can actually cause problems instead of prevent them.

My friend was faced with this last December.  She was due with her 5th baby.  Her first baby was born by cesarean after a failed induction.  Her OB offered to induce her this time.  All her family and friends (except me), wanted her to get induced too.  They were all sort of annoyed that she chose to wait until the baby decided when to come.  Which wasn’t well into January.  It is so interesting to me that no one seems to be aware of the risks of early inductions and cesareans. 

A study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in October calculated that for each week a baby stayed in the womb between 32 and 39 weeks, there is a 23% decrease in problems such as respiratory distress, jaundice, seizures, temperature instability and brain hemorrhages.

A study of nearly 15,000 children in the Journal of Pediatrics in July found that those born between 32 and 36 weeks had lower reading and math scores in first grade than babies who went to full term. New research also suggests that late preterm infants are at higher risk for mild cognitive and behavioral problems and may have lower I.Q.s than those who go full term.

I was proud of my friend for standing her ground.  For trusting in her instincts that the baby wasn’t ready.  I think she learned a hard lesson from her first induction.  That it is risky messing with mother nature. 

Here are some other fascinating statistics from the article:

It’s unclear how many deliveries are performed early for nonmedical reasons. Preterm births (before 37 weeks) have risen 31% in the U.S. since 1981 — to one in every eight births. The most serious problems are seen in the tiniest babies. But nearly 75% of preterm babies are born between 34 and 36 weeks, and much of the increase has come in C-sections, which now account for a third of all U.S. births. An additional one-fifth of all births are via induced labor, up 125% since 1989.

I am amazed at the increase in inductions since 1989.  125%    What can we do to help change this?  Well here is what was mentioned in the article. 

Making families aware of the risks of delivering early makes a big difference. In Utah, where 27% of elective deliveries in 1999 took place before the 39th week, a major awareness campaign has reduced that to less than 5%. At two St. Louis hospitals that send premature babies to Dr. Cole’s neonatal intensive-care unit, obstetricians now ask couples who want to schedule a delivery before 39 weeks to sign a consent form acknowledging the risks. At that point, many wait for nature to take its course, says Dr. Cole.

YAY!  Let’s educate the parents.  Let them know of the risks and then let them choose.  What a novel idea. :)    I know that informing parents  of the risks of different interventions is so important and here are some statistics that prove it. 

Thanks for such a great article!

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3 Comments on “Extra babies in December?

  1. My recent client was a surrogate mom with twins. Her pregnancy ended early with her bag of waters breaking. Her OB was actually pretty great. She labored for a couple of days with inconsistent contractions then finally just went with a c-section.

    My reason for mentioning all this was the talk she had with the NICU doctor. While the babies were early, they were thankfully healthy enough to go home with their parents within a couple of days. Her other OB had of course mentioned an induction at 36-37 weeks because they were all hoping to have the babies before christmas. The NICU doctor was aghast at this and flat out said…. for all babies, multiples and singletons…FULL TERM at 40 weeks is BEST!!!

    I feel that all mothers if given the chance should speak to NICU doctors. If having your baby at full term is all it takes to save your baby from struggling and having to go to the NICU…why not do it???


  2. Wow, 125% increase in inductions. I guess I’m not surprised. Most of the mainstream moms I know who don’t go into labor by 39 weeks are convinced that they need to be induced. Ick.


  3. Pingback: Types of Cesareans « Enjoy Birth Blog

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