Good news for babies in Oregon: On September 1, the state will become the latest in the country to enforce a "hard stop" on elective, non-medically necessary inductions and cesarean sections before 39 weeks. Of course, moms-to-be who want to schedule their deliveries early for the sake of convenience (or to ensure that their own doctor will be available) probably won't think this is great news.
Maybe that's because they don't fully grasp how huge the benefits of staying in the womb for an extra week or two are for babies.
Research has shown that babies' brains, livers, and lungs make significant developments during the final stretch of pregnancy (weeks 39 to 40, roughly). Technically, a baby is considered "full-term" at 37 weeks, but the more time they get to "cook," the better.
Naturally, that's assuming both baby and mom are in good health. There are circumstances where inductions and elective c-sections are, in fact, medically necessary. But this change in hospital policy doesn't affect non-elective procedures, so any concern over women being denied intervention that they actually need is unwarranted. Another falsely held belief is that early inductions aren't as extreme as early elective c-sections. Part of the reason why cesarean rates in this country have been skyrocketing is because inductions often turn into c-sections. (When your body's not ready, it's not ready!)
Babies who are born early, by the way, are at a greater risk of developing respiratory and feeding problems, as well as being re-admitted to the hospital for "failure to thrive."
It bothers me that the practice of early inductions and c-sections was ever this widespread to begin with, but hopefully things are starting to turn around ...
Do you agree with Oregon's decision to stop elective, non-medically necessary inductions and c-sections?
Image via Salim Fadhley/Flickr