The health concerns that affect preterm babies are well documented and much is known about the impact of an early birth on the long term health of children. Some of these issues were discussed in a recent post on Science & Sensibility highlighting World Prematurity Day. The issue of babies being born too soon was highlighted by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in a new committee opinion recently published in the November issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
In a joint committee opinion, “The Definition of Term Pregnancy” released by ACOG and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, these organizations acknowledge that previously it was believed that “the period from 3 weeks before until 2 weeks after the estimated date of delivery was considered ‘term’ with the expectation that neonatal outcomes from deliveries in this interval were uniform and good.” More recent research has demonstrated that this is not the case. The likelihood of neonatal problems, in particular issues related to respiratory morbidity, has a wide variability based on when during this five week “term” window baby is born.
ACOG has released four new definitions that clinicians and others can use when referring to gestational age; early term, full term, late term and postterm.
- Early term shall be used to describe all deliveries between 37 0/7 and 38 6/7 weeks of gestation.
- Term shall indicate deliveries from 39 0/7 and 40 6/7 weeks of gestation.
- Late term refers to all delivers rom 41 0/7 to 41 6/7 weeks of gestation.
- Postterm indicates all births from 42 0/7 weeks of gestation and beyond.
These new definitions should be put into practice by all those who work with birthing women, including researchers, clinicians, public health officials and organizations AND childbirth educators. We can and should be teaching and using these terms with our students.
As we move forward, we can expect to see these terms applied and research defined by the new categories, which will yield rich and useful information for those working in the field of maternal-infant health.
Lamaze International has long been focused on evidence based care during the childbearing year and continues to support childbirth educators, consumers and others by providing useful and fact based information that women and their families can use to make informed choices about their maternity care. As part of this continued effort, Lamaze is pleased to share a new induction infographic created by the Lamaze Institute for Safe & Healthy Birth committee. This easy to read infographic is designed to highlight the facts about induction and encourage women to carefully consider all the information before choosing a non-medically indicated induction. More than one in four women undergo an induction using medical means, and 19% of those inductions had no medical basis.
Since many women are pressured by providers or well-meaning but misguided friends and family to be induced, Lamaze encourages women to learn what are the important questions to ask during conversations with their providers and to get the facts about their own personal situation. It is also recognized that a quality Lamaze childbirth education class can provide a good foundation for understanding safe and healthy birth practices.
Lamaze International is proud of their Six Healthy Birth Practices for safe and healthy birth, and this infographic supports the first birth practice; let labor begin on its own. Women need to be able to gather information to discern between a medically indicated induction, which protects the baby, the mother or both from those induction that are done for a social or nonmedical reason which increases the risk of further interventions, including cesarean surgery for mothers and NICU stays for babies who were not ready to be born. This infographic can be shared with students, clients and patients. It can be hung in classrooms and offices. Educators can use it in creative ways during teaching sessions, when discussing the topics of inductions, informed consent and birth planning.
As the benefits of a term baby are more clearly understood, and research is revealing how critical those last days are for a baby’s final growth and development, it is perfect timing for Lamaze to share this infographic. This tool will reduce unneeded inductions and help women learn how important it is to allow their babies to receive the full benefit of coming when the baby is ready. There has been a huge push to stop inductions before at least 39 weeks. March of Dimes has their “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” campaign. The new induction infographic provides an accessible and easy to use information sheet to help families reduce non-medical inductions. Many organizations, including Lamaze are joining together to make sure that babies are born as healthy as possible and women go into labor naturally when baby is ready.
You can find and download the full version of the Induction infographic on the Let’s Talk Induction page of Lamaze’s Push for Your Baby campaign website. Alternately, if you are a Lamaze member, you can also download the infographic and many other useful handouts from the Teaching Handouts Professional Resource Page from Lamaze International.
Please take a moment to read over this great, new infographic and share in the comments below, both your thoughts on the finished product and how you might use this to help mothers to push for the best care. Lamaze International and its members are doing their part to help reduce the number of early term babies who arrive before they are ready. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and your ideas for classroom use.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Obstetric Practice Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Committee Opinion No 579: Definition of Term Pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol 2013; 122:1139.
Declercq, E. R., & Sakala, C. (2013). Listening to mothers III: Pregnancy and childbirth.”.