When a pregnancy reaches its final weeks, the fatigue, discomfort and just plain anxiousness to greet the baby was sometimes enough for doctors and parents to take action through an elective delivery. In the past decade, it became more common for doctors to schedule inductions and caesarean sections for the convenience of patients or themselves. But that's changed.
"And so now there is a firm line- 39 weeks unless there is a medical reason," Dr. Teressa Alexander, OB/GYN, Rush-Copley Medical Center, said.
Dr. Alexander agrees there was the misconception that it was safe to bring babies into the world as early as 36 weeks. But mounting research shows babies born before the 39 week mark are more likely to have breathing, feeding and developmental problems compared to full term babies.
Inducing labor or doing a C-section early also carries risks for mothers.
"They want to be healthy and they want their baby to be healthy so once you explain it to them, we really haven't had any push back," Dr. Alexander said.
Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora now has a firm policy to not schedule newborn deliveries before 39 weeks without a medical reason. Doctors are on board and so are many expectant parents.
Days away from her delivery date with number three, Elise Reible admits she's a little uncomfortable. But she's more than happy to wait and let her baby pick his or her own birth day.
"I want my children to be as ready as they can be and coming on their own that lest you know that they are as ready as they are going to be," Reible said.
Rush Copley joined a statewide campaign spearheaded by the Illinois Hospital Association. In a year and a half, Rush Copley reports its new policy has essentially eliminated early elective deliveries, and admissions to the neonatal intensive care unit are down.