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Feeling too "posh to push" -- or too uncomfortable to go the full 40 weeks? Tough luck, say an increasing number of hospitals, including some in Oregon that will refuse to do non-medically necessary C-sections and inductions before 39 weeks of pregnancy after September 1. The Oregon hospitals join twenty-some others nationwide that have already issued bans against elective inductions and C-sections before 39 weeks.
C-sections and inductions were both designed to be lifesaving procedures. But many healthcare professionals today are concerned that unnecessary C-sections and inductions -- scheduled either for the convenience of the mother or doctor -- are actually causing health problems for the baby.
Research has shown that late preterm birth, defined as birth between 34 and 36 weeks, is associated with an increased risk of breathing difficulties, impaired brain development, cerebral palsy, feeding problems and sudden infant death syndrome.
Sadly, statistics suggest that medical choices might be a contributing factor. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the late preterm birth rate in the U.S. increased 20 percent between 1990 and 2006. During that time, the number of late preterm inductions doubled and C-section rates during the late preterm period climbed from 23.5 to 34.3 percent.
Of course, sometimes those procedures, performed early, are medically necessary. But more and more hospitals are stepping in and refusing to provide elective C-sections and inductions prior to 39 weeks. So if you simply want to schedule a C at 38 weeks because that's when Grandma can visit, or because you’re tired of being pregnant, or because, hey, that's how some celebs do it, well, you're out of luck.
Sure, the last few weeks of pregnancy can be uncomfortable, and labor can be downright inconvenient. But research shows a clear benefit to keeping your baby baking as long as you can.