Before launching our Safe Deliveries initiative in partnership with the Washington State Hospital Association in January of 2011, Harrison’s early elective deliveries averaged 31 percent, far above state peers. Last year, among babies born after 37 weeks and before 39 weeks, the proportion of babies born via induction or c-section with no medical reason plunged statewide to 5.4 percent by the fourth quarter of 2011, yet Harrison fared even better, reducing elective deliveries to 4.2 percent from July to December 2011, and performing even better from October to December 2011, at 2.6 percent.
“We approached this issue as a team,” says Lauren Newcomer, director of Quality for Harrison Medical Center. “At our obstetrics meetings, we looked at the mounting research findings and decided to make a ‘hard stop’ to prevent elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks. Everyone is on board because everyone knows it’s the right thing to do for our babies.”
There are special instances where an early birth is warranted; when the risk to the mother and the baby outweighs the benefits of waiting until full term. However, issues like pregnancy fatigue, having ‘done-it-before’ or convenience are ruled out as valid reasons to induce labor or schedule a cesarean section (c-section).
Why a mom needs to go a full-term of pregnancy:
1. Important organs, like a baby’s brain, lungs and liver, get all the time they need to develop.
2. A baby is less likely to have vision and hearing problems after birth.
3. Babies born too soon often are too small. Babies born at a healthy weight have an easier time staying warm than babies born too small.
4. Babies can suck and swallow and stay awake long enough to eat after they are born. Babies born early sometimes can't do these things.
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Harrison Medical Center is a not-for-profit hospital offering medical, surgical, and emergency services at five locations—Bremerton, Silverdale, Port Orchard, Belfair, and Poulsbo—to serve the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas. To learn about Harrison’s many healthcare services, call 866-844-WELL or visit www.harrisonmedical.org.
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