The last few weeks of your pregnancy are not “optional.” They are an important time for your baby’s development which should not be cut short by an early induction. If there are valid medical reasons for labor induction, your health-care provider will help you decide on the best course of action. But if you just want to schedule an induction for the sake of convenience or any other non-medical reason, here are some things to consider:
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1. Less than 10% of babies actually arrive on their “due date.” Experts agree that a normal pregnancy lasts between 38 and 42 weeks. About 7 out of 10 babies are born after their due date! There is NO way to predict with absolute accuracy what day your baby will be born, you will have to trust your body and your baby to let you know w hen it’s time!
2. Unless you have had a first-trimester ultrasound, gestational dating is largely inaccurate. Later ultrasounds can be off by 2-3 weeks, meaning an induction at 38 weeks might actually be taking place sooner than intended.
3. First time mothers are more often overdue than not! Even 42 weeks PLUS is “normal” and is not a reason to rush into an induction.
4. The last few weeks that a baby spends in utero are an important time for baby’s development, most importantly brain development. A surge of hormones in your baby’s body might play a part in initiating labor. According to Lamaze, research indicates that once your baby’s lungs are fully mature, he releases a protein that tells his mother’s body that it’s time. A baby born even a few weeks early is at an increased risk for breathing problems, admission to special-care nurseries and breastfeeding difficulties.
5. Which brings us to our next point: Full-term babies (39-40 weeks) are healthier! According to Time: “It’s kind of surprising that insurance providers haven’t curtailed the practice of early elective deliveries entirely as babies born sooner tend to have more health complications and cost more. Even babies delivered at 37 to 38 weeks can end up costing 10 times as much as a full-term newborn, according to the March of Dimes. One study found that reducing early elective deliveries to under 2% could save close to $1 billion in health care each year.”
6. An induced labor is likely to be longer, more intense, and more invasive than a natural labor. You will need IV fluids and continuous electronic fetal monitoring. You will be more likely to use an epidural to deal with the intense contractions. Inductions don’t always work according to plan, often necessitating forceps, vacuum assistance, and c-sections. Relative to c-section babies, babies who go through labor are born more alert and are better able to breathe and latch on at the breast. (Read this article in Time.com)
7. Better in than out! All of my babies were over-due, and 3 children later I have come to the conclusion that babies are much less trouble in the uterus than out! That is my own personal opinion, of course, and I do love my children dearly!
Bottom line: Be respectful of your baby and let him be a player in his own birth. The safest birthing option for you and your baby is to wait for labor to begin on its own, and in this way you’ll give him the best possible start as he enters our world.