Blame it on discomfort, convenience, or wanting a birth on a special date - more and more babies are being delivered before the ideal 39-40 weeks. Now, some doctors are saying "no" and supporting the "39 Weeks Initiative" to eliminate elective inductions before that milestone is reached.
Cassandra Duhon is 36 weeks into her pregnancy with a baby girl, the second child for her and husband, Matt.
This mom says she has felt pretty good, but the last month marks entry into a torturous time! "You are completely miserable," said Cassandra, "you can't touch your toes...it's an experience.!"
Dr. Brad Forsyth is an OB/GYN at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for Women, one of more than 50 hospitals partnering with the state in the 39 Weeks Initiative. "Hospitals, providers, insurance providers agree to do everything they can to limit non-medically necessary elective inductions of labor or cesarean deliveries before 39 weeks," said Dr. Forsyth.
The 39 weeks mark gives a baby the time to grow and develop the brain and lungs. "Babies born before 39 weeks statistically have more issues with apnea or breathing episodes where they have intermittent breathing or stop breathing temporarily," said Dr. Forsyth.
Louisiana ranks 49th out of 50 states when it comes to infant mortality, low infant birth weight and pre-term deliveries. That is why state health officials were the first to launch an endeavor to reduce elective pre-term deliveries.
While Cassandra hopes to make it to 39 weeks, there is a chance that she could be induced a few days early to allow Matt, who works off-shore, to be there for the delivery. "It would just mean a lot for him to be there. He was there for the first one and it would just be even better for him to be there with our son and the new baby," she said.
While aiming to deliver on a family member's birthday or because a mom is uncomfortable are not justifiable reasons to induce early, Dr. Forsyth says having a father attend the delivery by acting a couple of days early is something that he, as a father of three, understands. "If you haven't experienced it yet, it's something you want to," said Matt, "you'll never forget it."
The latest Dr. Forsyth says he will wait to deliver a baby if he or she is past the due date is 41 weeks, because infant mortality rates rise again at that point.
Early inductions could result in c-sections, which carry a longer recovery period and more complications.