Banner Hospitals banning elective C-sections, induced labor for pregnant women

PHOENIX - Banner Hospitals have made a bold move, banning elective C-sections and leaving mothers with one less choice when it comes to delivering their babies.

Fabiola Johnson decided to have birth the old fashioned way, she waited until her body went into natural labor. But that's not how every mother wants it.

"I think Mother Nature knows when it's time, but everyone's entitled to their own decision," said Johnson about her decision to let labor happen when it did.

But for years, pregnant mothers have been scheduling C-sections and labor inductions to meet family schedules.

"Maybe mother can only make it in to help two weeks earlier, or they want to give birth before dad heads out of town on a business trip, but we're learning it's not worth the risk of the baby's life," said Dr. Ken Welch with Banner Estrella Medical Center.

Starting on July 18th, that choice will go away for mothers giving birth at any Banner Hospital.

Banner is banning elective C-sections and labor inductions across the board.

"We just had to draw that line in the sand and say, because of the data, that we've become convinced we know it's healthier for the baby and we know the mother wants what's best for the baby," said Welch.

That data is coming from several studies, including one by the March of Dimes, showing babies taken from the womb early spent more time in hospitals and had a higher chance of developmental issues.

Welch said the last month of gestation is turning out to be crucial.

"The brain is much larger at 39 weeks than at 36 weeks, the lungs, the gastric system, all of those things are maturing right before a baby would be due to be born."

Welch said hospitals were seeing C-sections scheduled earlier and earlier, explaining, "We became good at delivering babies before 39 weeks. Doctors were thinking if you can deliver at 39 weeks, why not 38 weeks or 36 weeks."

But Welch said what doctors and mothers were seeing was the relationship between the brain and growth during those last weeks.

While elective C-sections and labor inductions won't be scheduled, Banner Health officials said doctors will continue to schedule C-sections and labor inductions if the mother's health or the infant's health is at risk.

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