Your baby will arrive whenever it is fully ready, and you won’t have much say in the matter as long as you choose to have a natural birth. However, if there are some life threatening conditions that your doctor deems unsafe, he or she might urge you to induce your labor artificially. Your doctor might want to induce labor if your baby still hasn’t come out two weeks after your due date, if your water breaks but labor doesn’t begin, or if you develop preeclampsia. Inducing labor might involve different medications or medical procedures. Some women actually choose to induce labor for other reasons, and this is called elective induced labor. This choice might be made for a number of reasons, including convenience and preference. You might choose to induce labor if you want your baby’s birthday on a special date, or before your spouse needs to leave for a long time for whatever reason. Of course, choosing to induce labor has its risks.

Experts agree that labor should not be induced before 39 weeks of gestation. Doing so beforehand has many serious risks. When you induce labor too early, your baby will not be fully developed, and you might compromise his mental and physical development. Babies need to be in the womb until they are fully ready. If you elect to have your baby too early, he or she will probably need to spend a lot of time in intensive care, which will hinder your bonding and breastfeeding. Additionally, he or she could be unable to breathe normally, and will need to stay hooked up to a ventilator for a long time. Basically, inducing labor too early is the same as giving birth to a baby preterm, which has many negative, lifelong side effects.

As long as the procedure is performed correctly, electively inducing labor after 40 weeks of gestation can be safe. However, every woman’s pregnancy is different and unpredictable, so induction of labor should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. After a long nine months of pregnancy, waiting until the baby is ready might feel painstaking, but being hasty could seriously harm your baby. Unless induction is recommended by your doctor for medical reasons, wait it out and let your baby come out on his or her own time. Inducing labor might seem like a convenient option, but the risks are too great and could easily last a lifetime.

Source: Aaron B. Caughey et al: Maternal and Neonatal Outcomes of Elective Induction of Labor. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Volume 176 March 2009

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