In recent years, delivery practices such as labor-inducing medication for preterm births have become increasingly common. Evidence has revealed that such actions may heighten the risk of cerebral palsy, among other birth defects, encouraging hospitals to implement new, more cautious childbirth programs.
Elective inductions are becoming more and more popular. Research has indicated that deliveries performed even mere days early are more likely to end in emergency c-sections, neonatal intensive-care unit admissions, respiratory complications, and long-term, incurable conditions like cerebral palsy.
New policies strongly discourage, and sometimes even prohibit, inducing births before the 39-week minimum unless it isabsolutely necessary for medical reasons. Other steps taken include limiting the use of contraction-inducer oxytocin, vacuums and forceps, and other tools used to speed up the process of a birth.
Pregnant women are also being educated about the risks of early inductions and the use of the hormone oxytocin, while hospitalswork to boost teamwork and communication in delivery rooms and wards, in order to ensure proper monitoring and interpretation of fetal distress signals. Some institutes are initiating training programs for doctors and nurses which simulate fetal or maternal emergencies.
“Emergencies are rare events in labor and delivery, so it’s hard to keep your skills up,” explains Annie Herlik of Kaiser Permanente.