Inducing Labor at Full Time May Be Safer Than Waiting for Labor to Begin

The decision to induce or not can be a difficult one to make. There are certain instances where inducing labor is necessary to save the life of the mother or baby. In those cases, easy decision! But in most cases, once a pregnant woman reaches full-term, it’s a gray area issue. No one has been pregnant forever, and your body will most likely finally kick in and do what it’s supposed to do. But that doesn’t happen in a set timeline, and in reality, it doesn’t happen for a lot of women. Doctors will start talking about induction when you reach full-term, but the decision is still yours to make.

Full disclosure: I was induced with both my girls (my choice) and I had an absolutely amazing experience both times. Typically, induction is associated with higher c-section rates. However, a review of several studies has found that inducing labor may be the safer option for pregnant women who’ve reached full-term. It’s hard to know what to do, especially since the World Health Organization advises against unnecessary birth interventions. But, it’s also important to have all the information you can to make an informed decision.

According to a review of 30 randomized trials, inducing labor may be the safer option for full-term pregnancies.

The Cochran Library conducted a review of 30 randomized trials that involved more than 12,000 women with normal, healthy pregnancies in the U.S. and 13 other countries. They found that inducing labor at 41 weeks was safer than waiting for labor to begin on its own. In fact, induction at 41 weeks resulted in fewer perinatal deaths, stillbirths, and c-sections, compared to waiting.

The study did not find a correlation between inducing or waiting and an increase in other childbirth or postpartum issues.

For example, there was no difference in perineal trauma, postpartum bleeding, or the need for babies to be admitted to the NICU. Those numbers stayed steady regardless of if the woman was induced or waited for labor to begin on its own. Additionally, women spent the same amount of time in the hospital in both scenarios. Philippa Middleton is an associate professor at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute and lead author on the study, She says, “We’re moderately confident that inducing women at or after 41 weeks will reduce perinatal deaths, especially stillbirths. There aren’t many interventions that do this. This is one of them.”

If you’re torn on whether or not to induce labor once you’ve reached full-term, discuss all the pros and cons with your doctor. Yes, having the childbirth you want is important. But having a trauma-free childbirth and healthy baby is even more so.

(Image: iStock / Wavebreakmedia)

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