Your due date is called your estimated due date (EDD) because it’s an educated guess of when your baby will reach 40 weeks development in utero and be mature enough to survive in the air environment. It’s helpful for many reasons, but is not the end-all, be-all of knowing when baby is ready to be born.
Some women want to wait for their baby to signal he’s ready to be born, no matter if that sign comes after their EDD.
Other women choose to get “elective inductions” on a specific date for reasons of convenience or health, or because their due date has passed with no sign of baby coming.
While you’re researching your birth preferences and writing your birth plan is also a great time to think about your feelings around induction. Maybe it’s appealing or important to you, or maybe not.
If it is, asking your care provider about their practice and rate of labor inductions is a good question for your early prenatal visits. If you have strong feelings about starting labor naturally (spontaneous labor), you and your care provider need be on the same page, especially if you go over your due date.
What is labor induction?
In hospitals and birthing centers, that usually means using medications. But some facilities support natural methods often used in homebirths: movement, sex and/or nipple stimulation, teas, acupuncture or acupressure, spicy foods, membrane stripping.
Some hospital inductions are done because of health problems with mother or baby. Some inductions are done for the convenience of mom or doctor. And some are done because a due date has been passed and the care provider fears the health issues for both mom and babies that can happen with past due births.
And that is why, if you show no signs of impending labor around 38-40 weeks, the induction talk usually begins.
What’s wrong with waiting?
The big factor is your EDD. It’s an estimate that often has to rely on subjective information—the date of your last menstrual period. Many women don’t remember it accurately, some women have longer or shorter cycles that then affect calculation of your EDD, and some women’s families typically have longer or shorter pregnancies. All of this means that your EDD is a general gauge of the finish of pregnancy, not a definite date.
But once you near 41 weeks, most care providers seriously consider induction because they worry about the health of mom and baby. Some women have waited for spontaneous labor through 42 weeks and had perfectly healthy babies.
The relative risk of stillbirth increases after 41-42 weeks. Women who give birth after 42 weeks have greater chance of C-sections and infections. Their babies have greater chance of meconium aspiration syndrome, NICU admission, and low Apgar scores.
If you’re going to wait, you’ll need to be informed, have frequent checkups, and have a care provider who supports you.
Ultimately, every woman must decide what her priorities are. Your preferences and experiences matter, and need to be part of the “induction vs. spontaneous labor” conversation, alongside the medical realities for you and baby. Be sure that your final birth plan is listed on your hospital bag checklist so it goes with you, and that your induction preference is included in it.
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This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.
Published: September 30, 2017 | By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula | Reviewed by: The Best Ever Baby Expert Team | Last reviewed: September, 2017