FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and its management company have established a policy promoting full-term labor and delivery for pregnancies of 39 or more weeks, absent any medical conditions that threaten the mother or baby, according to a news release issued by the hospital.
The policy is being promoted throughout all hospitals in the Banner Health system and is endorsed by the March of Dimes and other health care organizations, Clover Tiffany, director of communications for the hospital, said.
“This is one of the ways that we are supporting the efforts of March of Dimes and reducing pre-term births and the risks that are involved in that,” Tiffany said.
Women sometimes choose to have induced labor or a cesarean section several weeks before their due date for a variety of reasons, said Jenna Edmiston, chief nursing officer for the hospital. Some are simply exhausted by their pregnancy and want to get it over with, while others are trying to time the birth to fit into a busy schedule, Edmiston said.
A normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, and babies born even three weeks earlier than that can experience lifelong health difficulties such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities, according to the news release.
The announcement puts into words a policy local health providers already practice, Tiffany said.
“It’s actually heavily supported at a local level from our own physicians in our OB-GYN department, and nursing staff of course.”