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Dallas Mom Delivers Girl After Advanced Procedure During Pregnancy|
DALLAS — Hearing the cries of her newborn daughter was music to Jennifer Jones’ ears. Not only had the delivery gone well, but she had carried baby Abigail to full term.
That’s something the 34-year-old mom never thought could be possible after her first pregnancy two years ago.
“There were just so many complications with my twin boys,” she said. “I was on bed rest for weeks on end, and we were still worried I might lose them.”
Diagnosed with an incompetent cervix in 2011, Jones, a Dallas resident, spent eight weeks in the hospital on bed-rest before giving birth to twin boys. Brothers Carter and Campbell were born at 31 weeks — two months premature. The boys spent more than a month in both the hospital’s neonatal intensive unit and special care nursery at Texas Health Dallas before going home.
Thanks to a new type of cervical cerclage, a delicate laparoscopic procedure performed during pregnancy to strengthen the cervix, Jones avoided bed rest and pre-term birth with baby Abigail. The result was the birth of her healthy daughter, who would soon join her brothers at home.
“This is why I got into medicine: to offer advanced procedures and treatments to help bring new life into the world,” said Dr. Ted Fogwell, an OB-GYN on the medical staff of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.
“A baby is best served if we can get to 39 weeks pregnant, which is one week before the due date,“ Fogwell said. “Babies born two months premature generally survive, but it's still a very serious situation with the possibility of numerous complications. With a previous history of a weak cervix, Jennifer was at a significant risk of prematurity.”
“At 19 weeks during my first pregnancy, I began to feel that something wasn’t right, so I immediately went to my doctor and he found that my cervix was funneling, causing it to shorten and have a risk of pre-term birth or miscarriage,” Jones said. “I was put on bed-rest at home, but when things didn’t change by 23 weeks I spent the remainder of my pregnancy in the hospital.”
With a full time job as a speech pathologist and two babies at home, Jones knew for this pregnancy she couldn’t risk long-term bed rest.
“There was also this fear that there could be health problems if I had another preterm delivery,” she said. “I feel blessed that Carter and Campbell are super healthy, but Dr. Fogwell said we needed to do everything we could to carry the next baby to term.”
After discussing options with Fogwell, she chose to move forward with the abdominal laparoscopic cerclage procedure during her 11th week of pregnancy.
“While Jennifer was pregnant with the twins, we discovered that her cervix had weakened and started opening too early, but it was too late to proceed with a cerclage,” Fogwell said. “When she learned of her second pregnancy we revisited and decided that the earlier we performed the procedure, the better for her and the baby.”
The procedure consists of four incisions, three through the side of the abdomen and one through the lower belly. A stitch is then made on the upper portion of the cervix to keep it tightly closed.
“By entering the abdomen I can place a quarter-inch thick band at the top of the cervix creating less chance of funneling versus a vaginal cerclage placement which is stitched lower in the cervix,” said Fogwell, one of only a few surgeons in North Texas performing this procedure. “While this minimally invasive procedure is new, data consistently shows that the abdominal cerclage has a higher success rate than the vaginal cerclage.”
For most women this surgery is preferable because of a faster recovery time.
“I went in on a Friday morning and went home later that afternoon,” Jones said. “I was able to move around during the weekend and then went back to work on Monday — I experienced very little down time. It was like this simple little procedure that was such a huge blessing for me and my baby.”
Fogwell said cervical incompetence can appear early in the second trimester. It affects approximately 2 percent of all pregnancies. Factors that have been known to increase the likelihood of an incompetent cervix include cervical trauma, hormonal influences or a congenitally short cervix, among others. To learn more about women’s health, please visit TexasHealth.org/dallas-women.
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