As a perinatal nurse in the South Sound, I see many pregnant women a few weeks from a full-term pregnancy who are anxious to deliver. Many don’t understand how critical the last few weeks of pregnancy are to the healthy development of their baby.
But I know that healthy babies are worth the wait. At least 39 weeks of pregnancy are crucial to a baby’s health as development of critical organs continue during the last weeks of pregnancy. Current research shows the risk of infant death doubles when a baby is born at 37 weeks of pregnancy when compared to infants born at 39 or 40 weeks.
I have been working with the March of Dimes, the Washington State Hospital Association, the Washington State Perinatal Collaborative and our local hospitals to eliminate medically unnecessary Caesarean sections and labor inductions before 39 weeks of pregnancy because all babies deserve the best opportunity for a healthy start in life.
I applaud Tacoma General Hospital, St. Joseph Medical Center and Good Samaritan Hospital, all participating in the Washington State Perinatal Collaborative’s Quality Improvement Initiative to eliminate early elective deliveries.
Currently in Washington, one in nine babies is born premature. Please join me in supporting our goal to decrease this rate. If you are pregnant and if you and your pregnancy are healthy, talk to your doctor about waiting until labor begins on its own to deliver.