March of Dimes toolkit encourages minimum

The March of Dimes, based in White Plains, NY, recently began an initiative in New York, California, Florida, Texas, and Illinois to implement a "39-week toolkit" in hospitals to discourage C-sections or inductions before that minimum gestation.

The toolkit is available online at this address: The tool specifically discusses how to implement policies and the risks associated with elective early deliveries. It is part of a campaign names "Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait," which encourages women to allow labor to begin on its own if their pregnancy is healthy.

It aims to dispel the myth that it's safe to schedule a delivery before 39 weeks of pregnancy without a medical need, says Judith Nolte, a member of the March of Dimes national Board of Trustees and former editor-in-chief of American Baby Magazine Group, who worked with the March of Dimes to develop the new awareness campaign.

"Some women mistakenly think that the only thing a baby does during the last weeks of pregnancy is gain weight, making labor and delivery more difficult," Nolte says. "When the moms in our focus groups learned about the important brain and organ development that occurs, they were more than willing to put up with their own discomfort so their baby could get a healthy start in life."

Research indicates that only 25% of women know a full-term pregnancy should last at least 39 weeks, Nolte says.