Hospital touts optimal health, development
LAFAYETTE — Lafayette General Medical Center officials say their efforts to educate women about the importance of carrying their baby to 39 weeks to ensure the child’s optimal health and development are paying off.
The hospital reported zero early-elective births during the 39-week period from the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, 2012, through June 30, according to Daryl Cetnar, Lafayette General Medical Center director of community relations.
The hospital’s effort is part of a “39 Week Initiative” pushed by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the March of Dimes to reduce the number of pre-term, elective births.
Often, women may request early delivery to accommodate a work schedule or visit from out-of-town family members, said Judy Robichaux, director of the medical center’s Women’s, Children’s and Clinical Education Services.
The baby’s lung maturity and brain development are two major reasons to wait — unless medically necessary to induce, Robichaux said.
Prior to 39 weeks, some babies haven’t learned how to suck or swallow.
“Even at 35 weeks gestation, the baby’s brain development is only two-thirds of what it will weigh at 39 weeks,” Robichaux said. “Lots of times when we try to induce prior to 39 weeks, that baby just is not ready.”
And in some cases, the mother’s body isn’t ready when labor is induced, increasing the likelihood of delivery by Caesarian section, Robichaux said.
The education outreach continues at the hospital, Cetnar said. “We’re impressing it upon moms and doctors because it’s safe.”
“We’re saying: don’t consider it before 39 weeks and here’s all the reasons why. It’s just safer for mom and baby.”
The trend continued at the hospital in July with another month of zero early elective deliveries, while the national average was 10.24 in the same month, Cetnar said.
More recent delivery statistics were unavailable due to required audits of medical records, he said.