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Hospitals Changing Elective Delivery Policy To 39 Weeks

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Amber Ballentine with her son, Luke (credit: CBS)

Amber Ballentine with her son, Luke (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – Those who hope to schedule their baby’s birth should think 39 weeks. Studies show that’s the earliest date to avoid potential medical problems.

One hospital system is cracking down on elective births by convincing mothers that healthy babies are worth the wait.

Luke Asher Ballentine is seven pounds, six ounces. He was born Feb. 20 at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center. But weeks before birth, Luke was breech — bottom first.

“I could have elected to have a C-section and get it over with,” Luke’s mother Amber Ballentine said.

Instead, Amber elected to wait. Luke eventually turned on his own and Amber was induced at 39 weeks.

“I want the child in utero as long as possible. I feel more comfortable knowing that’s the best place for him,” Amber said.

But in recent years, some expectant mothers have been in a hurry.

“In the last decade there’s been an increasing interest to schedule delivery dates electively,” maternal-fetal medicine specialist Dr. Richard Porreco said.

Researchers with Health One have discovered that can lead to infants with problems.

“They have jaundice, feeding difficulties, temperature stability; and that can keep them in the hospital and that’s disruptive to families, and it’s costly,” Porreco said.

Presbyterian/St. Luke’s and other Health One hospitals implemented new procedures to prevent early elective deliveries. To plan a birth before 39 weeks there has to be a medical reason — a danger to either the baby or the mother.

Amber appreciates the policy. She’s happy to be taking home a healthy son.

Health One started the 39 weeks initiative in 2010. It saw a significant decline in the number of elective deliveries in 2011.

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