The SBM Charitable Foundation Family Birthing Center at Manchester Memorial Hospital has been working with
the March of Dimes to reduce the number of elective inductions and cesarean deliveries performed before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy. This will give more babies a healthy start in life, the March of Dimes says. “We’re proud of our expert team of physicians and nurses who recognized this problem in our community and put in place policies to avoid scheduling elective inductions or cesarean deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, except when medically necessary,” said Chris Petrone RN-BC, MA, NCC, Administrative Director of Women's Services at Eastern Connecticut Health Network (ECHN).
“The Family Birthing Center was able to reduce unnecessary early deliveries to zero within the first month of the program and has sustained that remarkable rate throughout the year,” says Petrone. “It took intense collaboration among the nurses, midwives and physicians, but they all understand the importance of keeping more babies in the womb longer and were quick to embrace the initiative. The bigger part has been educating the parents, who are anxious to meet their new baby and often find it difficult to wait out those last weeks of pregnancy, that even a few days can make a difference in the baby’s overall health.
The Family Birthing Center implemented a toolkit called “Elimination of Non-medically Indicated (Elective) Deliveries before 39 Weeks Gestational Age” to guide changes in early term delivery practices. The toolkit was developed in partnership with the March of Dimes, the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative and the California Maternal Child and Adolescent Division within the California Department of Public Health. It can be downloaded free from the Prematurity Prevention Resource Center at prematurityprevention.org.
“The last weeks of pregnancy are important,” says Scott Berns, MD, MPH, senior vice president and deputy medical director for the March of Dimes. “Babies aren’t just putting on weight. They are undergoing important development of the brain, lungs and other vital organs. I commend the Family Birthing Center at Manchester Memorial Hospital for being a champion for babies with their quality improvement effort.”
Worldwide, 15 million babies are born too soon each year and more than one million of those infants die as a result of their early births. Babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and others. Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. Recent research by the March of Dimes, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that although the overall threat is small, the risk of death more than doubles for infants born at 37 weeks of pregnancy when compared to babies born at 40 weeks, for all races and ethnicities.
Through Strong Start, a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the March of Dimes, along with national partners, has been getting out the word that “Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait.” The campaign urges women to wait for labor to begin on its own if their pregnancy is healthy, rather than scheduling delivery before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy.
The March of Dimes offers professional and consumer education materials about the importance of a full-term pregnancy and the critical development of the brain, lungs and other organs that occur during the last weeks of pregnancy.
More information is available at: marchofdimes.com/39weeks andhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6XcWBcaliA