Labor Of Love: Examining Elective Deliveries

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ATLANTA —

Channel 2 continues to support the March of Dimes and other organizations as they work to prevent early elective deliveries before 39 weeks. Now there are new developments concerning the Labor of Love campaign in Georgia and nationwide.

The Georgia Hospital Association’s latest numbers show 29 percent of the hospitals that submitted data achieve “zero” early elective deliveries before 39 weeks and more than half the hospitals are at 5 percent or lower. 

In 2010, Georgia’s rate of early elective deliveries was 30 percent. It has dropped to just over 4 percent. Experts say the lower rate has saved millions of dollars in healthcare costs.

The March of Dimes is also seeing significant results nationwide.  They recently worked with 25 hospitals in 5 states and lowered early elective deliveries by 83 percent!

A Channel 2 prime time special "Labor of Love" airing Sunday May 19  at 12:30 p.m examines the risks of elective deliveries before 39 weeks and how women can boost their chances of a healthy, full term pregnancy.

Obstetricians say babies delivered at 38 weeks have twice the risk of admission to a newborn intensive care unit for breathing or feeding issues, temperature control or infections. At 37 weeks, the risk is four times that of a baby born at 39 weeks or later.

Neonatologists say a baby's brain is growing 1 milligram a minute during the last trimester and the lungs are still developing in those final weeks. Babies delivered a week or two early may be sleepy or too tired to properly breastfeed.

Experts say the best advice is to let labor begin naturally unless there is a medical reason to induce or schedule a c-section.

In Georgia, there is no set policy on 39 weeks birth terms. Some hospitals will not induce or schedule a delivery before that time without a medical reason. Many other hospitals are reviewing deliveries scheduled before 39 weeks.

The risks of induction at any point in pregnancy include heart rate issues, infections, jaundice and time in the newborn intensive care unit. The use of labor inducing drugs may lead to painful contractions that will require pain medication, experts say.