Planning the date: early birth inductions raise concern - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Planning the date: early birth inductions raise concern


The last few weeks of pregnancy can be agonizing for moms-to-be.  Not knowing just when a baby will arrive can be stressful and make it hard to plan. 

As a new mom, it's something I know all about.

The birth of my son Drake was an amazing time.  But my due date quickly came and went. And my baby boy had plans of his own.   My water broke, and he was born the day before we were to have a scheduled induction.  And that's what many hospitals are pushing for--allow moms the time for nature to take its course--rather than scheduling induction even before the due date.

Chris Davis hates to be away from his little girl Izzy for even a moment.  But four years ago, when his wife Jennifer was about to give birth, he was half a world away on military deployment.

"For him not to be able to be there was, I think, pretty rough on him," Jennifer Davis said.

So Jennifer's doctor suggested she schedule an early induction so husband Chris could be on the phone when the little one arrived.

"So he got to, in a sense, be there, without actually being there," Davis said.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in the last two decades the rate of induction has more than doubled.  In Iowa, inductions have gone up seven percent in the past 10 years.  And early induction for non-medical reasons is becoming common practice.

"Moms wanted to have the convenience of having the babies born at a time that was good for them.  And physicians perceived the risk to the baby was very low.  They wanted to accommodate the mom's desire," said Frank Mazza, a hospital chief patient safety officer.

But now, a growing number of hospitals are saying "no".  Instead of leaving it up to mom and doctor, they're instituting hospital-wide bans against non-medical inductions before 39 weeks.  It's not a trend in just one region, either.

"Across the country, hospital systems are improving the safety and quality of their perinatal care," Mazza said.

So why the need for a hard and fast rule?  Dr. William Grobman says it's a matter of benefit vs. risk. 

"There are increased short term risks such as having issues that require going to the neo-natal intensive care nursery, for example.  But even the longer term data that have been done suggest greater long term risks," said Dr. Grobman, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

Waiting for nature means less risk for the mom, too.

"There is also some evidence it increases the chance of caesarian delivery," Dr. Grobman said.

While some OB/GYNs might be resistant to banning early inductions, eventually they see the benefits.

"We are delivering babies that have a less--decreased complication rate.  And I think that all OB/GYNs, that's their main concern," said OB/GYN Dr. Alinda Cox.

And while moms might not like it, they understand the policy.

"Even though they're uncomfortable and really would like to have that baby out yesterday, they do understand that they want a healthy baby also," said Dr. Cox.

Jennifer Davis agrees a healthy baby is best, but she is glad policies banning early induction weren't in place when her daughter was born.

For the past few years, the March of Dimes has given Iowa a grade of "C" for the rate of premature deliveries--part of which is attributed to a climb in early, scheduled inductions.  Some Des Moines area hospitals have banded together--creating an "inner city policy" to not perform inductions before 39 weeks, unless it's medically necessary.  And health advocates would like to see a similar measure in place statewide--to help improve Iowa's grade, which could in turn lead to healthier moms and babies. 

The March of Dimes has been working with hospitals around the country to help end the practice of early inductions that aren't medically needed.  The organization says it's gaining momentum, but there's still much work to be done.



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