Northfield Hospital’s First Touch Birth Center was recently recognized by the March of Dimes and Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) for its commitment to reducing early elective deliveries.
Research shows that important development takes place for a baby’s brain and lungs during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Yet according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), early elective deliveries — which include inductions and planned Cesarean sections that are not medically necessary — still account for 10 to 15 percent of all deliveries nationally.
Hospitals in Minnesota and across the nation are working to end elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks gestation. Minnesota passed a law in 2012 requiring hospitals to implement policies and processes to minimize non-medically necessary early inductions. Northfield Hospital was one of 35 Minnesota hospitals recognized by MHA’s Partnership for Patients program for reducing the rate of early elective deliveries to 5 percent or less in 2013.
Annette Sheldon, RN, director of First Touch Birth at Northfield Hospital, said the birth center has had such a policy in place for almost 10 years.
Last year, 548 babies were delivered at Northfield Hospital. None of these were scheduled for an induction or Cesarean birth before 39 weeks without a medical indication.
“Occasionally women may request early elective deliveries for social reasons or because they are uncomfortable,” Sheldon said. “However, we find that when they are made aware of the data showing that babies have fewer complications when they are born after 39 weeks, they are usually happy to wait.”
Sheldon said babies born electively before 39 weeks are more likely to have breathing issues, difficulty feeding, and jaundice, and they may have a longer hospital stay.
Through its Partnership for Patients program, Minnesota Hospital Association provides education and technical assistance for members to improve on quality health care initiatives and foster a culture of safety in Minnesota hospitals.
For more information or questions, go to: http://www.mnhospitals.org/patient-safety/partnership-for-patients.