Worth the Wait

When you’ve been waiting for your baby for what seems like an eternity, it’s easy to allow that anticipation to override conventional knowledge that a normal gestation period for a baby is 39-40 weeks.

Your physical discomfort, sleepless nights and sheer excitement may prompt you to ask your doctor to induce your labor a little earlier.

If you’re delivering at a Baptist Health hospital and you have had a normal pregnancy, you’re likely to be told to wait a little longer.

That’s because South Miami, Baptist, Homestead and West Kendall Baptist Hospitals are following the guidelines by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) that suggest if a pregnancy is healthy, labor should be allowed to happen naturally. The March of Dimes also supports this effort and has developed its Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait education campaign.

“Those final weeks of a baby’s development are crucial,” said Rene Paez, M.D., chief of obstetrics and gynecology at South Miami Hospital’s Center for Women & Infants, which was one of 25 hospitals directly participating in a March of Dimes-led study out this week. “Reducing unnecessary elective early deliveries means that babies stay in the womb longer and allow for the full development of vital organs, including the brain and lungs.”

The study, published this week in the online edition of Obstetrics & Gynecology, reports that the rate of elective early-term deliveries through induced labor or Cesarean sections before 39 weeks gestation and without medical reasons dropped 83 percent, from nearly 28 percent to just under 5 percent, during the one-year project period. Both Baptist and South Miami Hospitals saw similar decreases over the same period of time. Homestead and West Kendall Baptist Hospitals have also opted to follow the guidelines.

“We’ve been looking at the risks from elective early deliveries for nearly a decade,” said Larry Spiegelman, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist affiliated with Baptist Hospital. “The data show that the least risk to the baby is a delivery between 39 and 40 weeks gestation, so we’re implementing ways to ensure that elective deliveries are done during that period.”

Homestead Hospital’s Chief of Pediatrics Danette Torres, M.D., adds, “Research has shown that the number of babies who require care in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit when they are born even one and a half weeks early from an elective delivery is significant. This prompted the medical community to take a look at curbing that trend when not medically necessary.”

Be sure to discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of an early delivery. If you and your baby are healthy, remember the old saying, “The best things come to those who wait.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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