Elective Induction

Elective Induction

What Is Elective Labor Induction?

When a woman is nearing the end of her pregnancy, she may have her labor started (induced) rather than waiting for labor to begin on its own. This is called a labor induction.

When your health care provider recommends a labor induction for your health or for the health of your baby, it’s called an indicated labor induction. However, when labor is induced for a non-medical reason such as convenience or preference, it’s called an elective labor induction.

When is Elective Labor Induction Safe?

Electing to have your health care provider induce labor may appeal to you. You may want to plan the birth of your baby around a special date or around your spouse’s or health care provider’s schedule. Or maybe, like most women during the last few weeks of pregnancy, you’re simply eager to have your baby.

However, elective labor induction isn't always best for your baby. Inducing labor before you are at least 39 weeks along in your pregnancy or before your cervix is ready has risks. Your health care provider will follow the guidelines described here to help determine if and when elective labor induction is safe for you and your baby.

Your Due Date

When you became pregnant, your health care provider gave you an estimated due date for your baby’s arrival. This is the date that your baby is expected to be full-term. Your due date is based on information about your last menstrual period, results from various lab tests and the size of your baby based on early ultrasound.

Before Inducing Labor

  • Your health care provider must confirm that you have not previously had a cesarean delivery or major surgery on your uterus.

  • Your health care provider must be certain of your due date to prevent starting labor too early, before your baby is fully developed.

  • You must be at least 39 weeks along in your pregnancy.

  • Your cervix must be soft and ready to open (dilated). Your health care provider can confirm this by examining your cervix to determine a Bishop Score, which is the standard measure for assessing the cervix’s readiness for labor. A Bishop Score of at least 10 for first time moms (8 for others) is a common threshold. With this score, the likelihood of having a vaginal delivery after induction is similar to that of spontaneous labor.

How Long Does a Normal Pregnancy Last?

A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. It was once thought that babies born a few weeks early — between 37 and 39 weeks — were just as healthy as babies born after 39 weeks. Experts now know that babies grow throughout the entire 40 weeks of pregnancy. At Carroll Hospital, we do not electively induce before 39 weeks' gestation. Babies who are born before 39 weeks may not be as developed as those who are born after 39 weeks. Because they may be less developed, they may have an increased risk of short-term and long-term health problems, and some of these problems can have lasting effects.

If you have any questions about elective labor induction, we encourage you to discuss them with your health care provider. Together, the two of you can make the best decision for a positive birth experience.

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