Any mom can tell you the last few weeks of pregnancy can be tough and uncomfortable. That’s why many women used to schedule an early C-section or induction. But a recent push by the March of Dimes to have moms wait it out has made a big dent in early delivery waits.
For decades doctors thought that if a mom could make it to 37 weeks of pregnancy, odds were high she’d give birth to a healthy baby. By 2011, about one in four births in the U.S. was an elective delivery.
"It's in recent years that we've begun to learn that babies born in early term, 37 - 38 weeks, have a higher risk of disease and a higher risk of complication and a higher risk of death," said Dr. Edward McCabe, medical director for the March of Dimes.
Full-term is considered 40 weeks. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has long recommended women wait until at least 39 weeks to deliver.
The group re-iterated that stance just this month after noting the high rate of non-medically indicated early deliveries.
The March of Dimes collaborated with 25 hospitals in five states with the most deliveries in an attempt to limit early births to those with a medical complication.
After one year early term births went down 83 percent in those hospitals.
"We saw we were actually moving babies and deliveries from early term to full term deliveries," Dr. McCabe noted.
A few more weeks of uncomfortable waddling around was a no-brainer for most mothers who knew it was best for their baby.
“Most of my patients understood and were willing to wait until 30 weeks,” said Dr. Sara Ramirez with Mission Hospital.
Although Washington wasn’t one of the five states involved in this study, a similar initiative launched here back in 2011 also resulted in a big drop in elective deliveries.