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Special Report: Scheduling Baby's Birthday

Those last two weeks of pregnancy can be agonizing for moms to be. and not knowing when labor will arrive can make it hard to plan. Some moms choose to have early inductions to help them prepare for their little one's arrival. But now some hospitals are cracking down--banning early inductions and asking moms to wait for nature instead.
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 deployment for the military.

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

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

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

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, in the last two decades, the rate of induction has more than doubled. And early induction for non-medical reasons has become common practice.

"Moms wanted to have the convenience of having the babies born at a time that was good for them,” Hospital Chief Patient Safety Officer Frank Mazza said. “And physicians perceived the risk to the baby was very low. They wanted to accommodate the mom's desire."

But now a growing number of hospitals are saying no. Instead of leaving it up to mother and doctor, they're instituting hospital-wide bans against non-medical induction 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 prenatal care," Mazza said.

Baptist Hospital and UAMS both follow those same guidelines.

Why the need for a hard and fast rule? Doctor William Grobman, Associate Professor at Northwestern University, says it's a matter of benefit versus 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," Dr. Grobman said.

There's less risk to the mother as well.

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

ACOG says while some obstetricians might be resistant to the growing trend at first, eventually they see the benefits.

"We are delivering babies that have a less-decreased complication rate,” Dr. Alinda Cox, Gynecologist said. “And I think all OBGYNS that's their main concern."

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," Dr. Cox said.

Jennifer agrees a healthy baby is best - but is glad these policies weren't in place when her daughter was born. She's grateful for the choice she was given.

"I'd do it again in a heartbeat” Jennifer said. “I mean, just knowing that, you know, he was able to be a part of it that much, was important."
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