How can you give your baby a healthy start?

Amber Savells, M.D.Are you 36 weeks pregnant and eager to have your baby now? A healthy, full-term pregnancy of 40 weeks should be at the top of your list to give your baby the best possible start in life.

Prematurity risks

The benefits of carrying your baby full-term or 40 weeks definitely outweigh any inconveniences it may cause for a short period. For that reason, we do not support medically-unnecessary or elective deliveries before 39 weeks.

It is not just babies born two or three months early who are premature. Every week of pregnancy is critical to a baby’s health, so babies at 36 and 37 weeks are considered premature as well.

Prematurity is the leading cause of newborn infant death. In the U.S. and in Kentucky, about one in eight babies is born prematurely (before 37 weeks). Worldwide, 15 million babies are born too soon each year and more than one million of those infants die as a result of their early births.

Babies born even three or four weeks early can have problems with feeding and jaundice. They often face the risk of lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy and learning disabilities.

Champions for healthy babies

At Baptist Health, we are dedicated to lowering the number of premature births. We are among 100 hospitals nationwide working with the March of Dimes “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait®” campaign, including the 39 weeks+ Quality Improvement Service Package to reduce medically-unnecessary (elective) inductions and Cesarean deliveries scheduled before 39 weeks of pregnancy.

Babies have been important throughout the 60-year history of Baptist Health Paducah. The first baby was born here just four hours after the hospital opened in 1953 and more than 78,000 have followed – more than four times the number at the area’s other hospitals combined. It has the only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the area and has been named among America’s Best Hospitals for Obstetrics by WomenCertified®.

In case your baby does come early, it’s comforting to know the NICU stands ready to care for babies who are at least 28 weeks, providing expert care close to home.

If you have a question about your pregnancy, ask our nurses at StorkLine 24 hours a day at 270.575.BABY.

– Amber Savells, MD, obstetrician

About Baptist Health Paducah

Baptist Health Paducah is a regional medical and referral center, serving about 200,000 patients a year from four states. With more than 1,800 employees and 200 physicians, it offers a full range of services, including cardiac and cancer care, diagnostic imaging, women’s and children’s services, surgery, emergency treatment, rehabilitation and more. Since its humble beginning in 1953, Baptist Health Paducah has grown from 117 beds to 349 beds on a campus covering eight square blocks.
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