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Video: Risk - Consequences of a Near-Term Birth

More than 30,000 late preterm deliveries each year, either by induced labor or cesarean, are strictly elective - and avoidable. What are the possible outcomes of an elective late preterm delivery?

The stories of moms Bonnie and Andrea, and the perspectives of Dartmouth-Hitchcock obstetricians Dr. Michele Lauria and Dr. William Edwards, can help you learn more about the risks from this procedure. While these mothers did not choose their late preterm deliveries, the complications their babies experienced can occur with elective deliveries.

Written, edited and directed by Erik Ewers. Produced by Your Story Productions, LLC.

Questions about elective preterm delivery

If preterm birth is so dangerous, why do I keep hearing about celebrities and supermodels routinely going in for scheduled c-sections and coming out fine?

We often don't get all the facts about celebrity births, and we certainly don't hear about all the births that don't do well. Babies develop and get ready for birth at very different rates. It may be safe for one baby to be born early at 38 weeks, but not for another, even if they are siblings. Going into labor naturally is the best indication that the baby is ready. Otherwise, it's harder to be sure. Although complications from planned deliveries before 39 weeks are fairly uncommon, they can be devastating for the baby.

By scheduling my baby's birth, I'm ensuring that my doctor, whom I trust and know well, will be available, which helps make for a safer birth. If she's born at any time, who knows who I could be getting! Isn't that an important factor?

Your provider's group is set up to ensure the safest delivery, regardless of day or night. It's best for a baby to be born at the right time, by a care team dedicated to the delivery.

If I have to wait another few weeks, I'm going to be even more tired and worn out than I am now. I'll be better able to take care of my baby if I can have it earlier. Isn't that a good reason not to wait?

Everyone loses sleep at the end of a pregnancy. That's an important time of development for your baby as it gets ready to adopt to its new world. A baby who is born early needs much more care than a full-term baby.

I want to schedule a C-section because I don't want to become incontinent. What's wrong with that?

Exercise, having a healthy weight and not smoking are the best ways to avoid incontinence. Research doesn't show that scheduled cesareans decrease incontinence rates.

My OB says I need to deliver early because my baby isn't growing well or has too little fluid around it.  What should I do? 

There ARE some very good reasons to deliver early. If your baby isn't growing well or doesn't have enough amniotic fluid, then the placenta may not be working properly. Your obstetrician or midwife is trained to look for such issues. You may also be facing an issue such as severe preeclampsia (high blood pressure). Your provider will help you determine the best course of action for you and your baby.

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