New Georgia Policy Encourages Moms to Carry Babies to Full Term - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

New Georgia Policy Encourages Moms to Carry Babies to Full Term

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Statistics show that 10% of all births are scheduled early without a medical reason.  Doctors say many mothers schedule those births for comfort or cosmetic reasons.  However, they say it may not be the best option for you and your family.

Nearly 16% of hospitals across the Peach State allow mothers to give birth early.  

Now, two local hospitals working to discourage planned early deliveries by banning moms from scheduling births before 39 weeks without a medical reasons.

Dr. Russell Swagner, a gynecologist at Doctors Hospital, says, "Even 37, 38 weeks there could create respiratory problems with the baby. It can make the baby want to stay in the hospital, which could then incur extra costs and expenses. As we're in the health care reform obviously, so that makes a big difference too."

Starting July 1st, Medicaid in Georgia will not reimburse any mother who chooses to give birth early. Doctors Hospital has banned the practice since 2009.  Georgia Regents Medical Center does not ban early elective deliveries; however doctors there encourage mothers to wait until full term to deliver.

Shalonna Stewart, a new mom, says "Both as a mother and as a nurse, I do understand the importance of letting the baby develop fully. Especially given their lungs the chance to develop."

Studies show that waiting the full 39 weeks can also increase the I-Q of baby and help with brain development.  

Doctors say it could save money in medical costs.  "In the long run, you're not going to have babies who have to be in the ICU, you're not going to have mothers staying longer. In the long run I think hospitals administrators are going to be happy this is not running up the costs," says Dr. Russell Swagner.

In Georgia, 9,000 children are prematurely born every year.   The March of Dimes' Augusta Branch is holding a 3-mile walk to promote banning early elective delivery.

They are also raising money for the costs associated with those premature births.   That event will be Saturday, May 4th at 9:00 a.m. at Lake Olmstead Park.

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