For many women, after nine long months of waiting, their due date comes and goes with no sign of baby. A few days beyond the due date is not a big deal, but if more than two weeks go by, your health care provider might suggest you induce labor. If you don’t induce labor, your baby could be in the womb too long, and his or her risk of stillbirth more than doubles when the initial due date passes. Because of modern medicine, labor induction is relatively safe, and the procedure is non invasive.

To induce labor, your doctor has a few options. Most likely, he or she will use some type of hormone that causes uterine contractions, such as prostaglandin. These hormones might be taken orally, inserted, or they might come in gel form. Most women react in the same way to these hormones, and labor generally starts within 24-hours. However, a recent study determined that women who are obese might not react to the labor induction as quickly or as effectively. They stay in labor longer and are more likely to need an emergency cesarean section.

There are many benefits to losing weight before you become pregnant and keeping it off, and labor complications in the event of induction is most definitely one of them. If your health care provider suggests that you induce labor, your baby’s health will likely be at risk if you don’t. Therefore, being healthy and having a normal BMI just in case will make the whole process easier and less stressful. If your BMI is normal, the hormones will go into effect after approximately 24 hours, and you will be able to have the baby naturally without a cesarean section.

The best way to ensure that your BMI is in the normal range during your pregnancy is to hold off on conception until you are an average weight for your size. It will be much easier to get the proper exercise and diet necessary for weight loss before you become pregnant. If you are slightly overweight when you become pregnant, make sure you don’t gain any excess weight and continue to eat healthy and exercise throughout the duration of your gestation. That way if your pregnancy lasts beyond your original due date and induced labor is necessary, it will be relatively easy and there will be a lower risk for complications with labor.

Source: Leo Pevzner et al: Effects of Maternal Obesity on Duration and Outcomes of Prostaglandin Cervical Ripening and Labor Induction. Obstetrics & Gynecology Volume 114 Issue 6 pp. 1315-1321 December 2009