South Central Kansas Medical Center’s family birthing center has received special recognition from the March of Dimes for reducing the number of elective inductions and cesarean deliveries performed before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health.

“We’re proud of our expert team of physicians and nurses who have worked together to put in place policies to avoid scheduling C-sections or inductions before 39 weeks of pregnancy, except when medically necessary,” said Virgil Watson, SCKMC’s chief executive officer.

Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants, according to the March of Dimes.

The risk of death more than doubles for infants born at 37 weeks of pregnancy, when compared to babies born at 40 weeks.

Babies who survive an early birth often face lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy and learning disabilities.

“The last weeks of pregnancy are important. Babies aren’t just putting on weight. They are undergoing important development of the brain, lungs and other vital organs,” said Dr. Paul Jarris, March of Dimes senior vice president and chief medical officer.

“We commend (SCKMC) for being a champion for babies with their quality improvement effort.”

The hospital’s family birthing center team consists of Shaylee Jagels, team lead, plus three other registered nurses and two aides. The program is overseen by Dr. Perry Lin, obstetrics and gynecological specialist. Lin specializes in both infertility and high-risk pregnancy.

“We have a great staff and great doctors — everybody works well together. It’s an establishment where the patients will receive the best care,” Jagels said.

This information was provided by South Central Kansas Medical Center Marketing Director Clayton Pappan.