Our babies are thanking you.

Kudos to Lafayette General Medical Center, which has just learned that its efforts to eliminate early-elective deliveries makes it the No. 1 hospital in the country for delivering babies at full term.

The hospital announced Tuesday that it has gone 39 consecutive weeks, and counting, with zero early-elective deliveries. No hospital in the country can do better than that.

According to LGMC's announcement, the triumph was part of the “39 Week Initiative,” a March of Dimes campaign to encourage pregnant mothers and physicians not to schedule deliveries earlier than 39 weeks gestation, unless medically necessary.

LGMC perfected the “39 Week Initiative” at the start of its fiscal year, Oct. 1, 2012. For 39 consecutive weeks (through June 30, 2013), 100 percent of mothers at LGMC refrained from choosing to deliver earlier than 39 weeks, thanks to the concerted efforts of the hospital staff and its physicians.

The “39 Week Initiative” aims to educate women about the perils of early delivery and urges doctors to resist performing them without medical necessity.

You won't believe why some women try to opt for early deliveries.

“It is not unusual for a woman to want to have her baby’s delivery coincide with a work schedule or the arrival of a family member from out of town,” says Judy Robichaux, director of LGMC’s Women’s, Children’s and Clinical Education Services. “When we explain all of the risk factors that could jeopardize the baby’s health, they change their mind.”

Research shows that inducing labor or performing Caesarean sections before 39 weeks of gestation for no medical reason significantly endangers a newborn’s health. A baby’s immune system isn’t fully developed until approximately 33 weeks, and a brain at 35 weeks weighs only two-thirds of what it will weigh at 39 to 40 weeks; lungs and other internal organs are still undergoing crucial development at that point, too.

Babies born before 39 weeks sometimes have not yet learned to suck and swallow and often have to catch up in gaining weight.

The push for hospitals to adopt the “39 Week Initiative” came in 2010, when the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the Louisiana Hospital Association endorsed the March of Dimes initiative.

Since then, the effort to educate mothers-to-be has been successful.  

But nowhere has it been as successful as LGMC.

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