Monday, January 27, 2014

Healthy babies are worth the wait

As part of the 75th anniversary celebration of the March of Dimes, UnitedHealthcare is a proud partner of the campaign to educate the public about the importance of the last few weeks of pregnancy titled, “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait.”  While some women may need to have their babies early for medical reasons, physicians and families schedule far too many births before the full gestation period of 40 weeks for non-medical reasons. 

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) classifies a baby as “full term” at 37 weeks, but advises against elective deliveries before 39 weeks.  A UnitedHealthcare study, which surveyed 650 insured, first-time mothers from various geographic, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, found that more than 90% of respondents thought that it was safe to deliver a baby before 39 weeks.

But those last weeks of pregnancy count.  In the last few weeks, babies are still developing important body functions, and babies born before 39 weeks are at increased risk of complications such as respiratory distress, jaundice, infection, low blood sugar, extra days in the hospital and even death.

The March of Dimes wants babies to get at least 39 weeks of gestation. For pregnant women, the March of Dimes offers information on why it is important for labor to begin on its own and not to schedule delivery by convenience.  It also encourages health care professionals to participate in quality improvement initiatives aimed at eliminating early elective deliveries.

“Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” is an important component of the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign, a nationwide effort to address the growing problem of premature birth, the leading cause of newborn death and a major cause of serious health problems. Premature births cost society billions of dollars every year. 

As an expansion of the “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait Campaign, the March of Dimes has created the “CineMama” iPhone app.  Women can create a time-lapse video of their pregnancy – and get health tips along the way – through this free interactive app.    Time-lapse pregnancy slideshows and videos are a trend among expectant parents as a way of creating a digital keepsake of their pregnancy to share with loved ones. 

“CineMama” allows expecting moms to take and upload their photos to the web, easily turn the still pictures into video, and share it all through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.  “CineMama” will prompt women to record the ups and downs of their pregnancy, as well as important milestones in a diary that can be easily shared.

You can find more information at marchofdimes.com/39 weeks here or by calling 610-945-6050. You should also check with your insurance company. UnitedHealthcare has a Healthy Pregnancy program that connects our members who are expectant mothers with the care and education they need. The program is at no additional cost to the member and provides 24-hour* toll-free access to experienced maternity nurses and other resources.

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