As a mother of four children, I believe there are three personal stages to pregnancy. The initial stage is one of excitement and joy. You are overpowered by the idea that a new life is growing inside your womb. About halfway through the pregnancy, you settle into the comfort phase. You have come to terms with your initial excitement and you start planning to welcome a baby into your life. The final stage is an expectation. As your due date grows closer your body and mind start getting restless. You want to meet your new baby and your body is ready to start the recovery process. That last stage is one that can last longer for some women, especially when the expected due date comes and goes. How long will a doctor wait before inducing labor and stopping a prolonged pregnancy?

The Long and Short of Pregnancy Induction

Your pregnancy due date is an educated guess of the date labor and delivery will occur. Though advances in science have made the guessing process more accurate, due dates are off by a few days or weeks, in some cases. 

A healthy pregnancy can last about 42 weeks, though some have gone longer with no negative side effects, pregnancy complications or fetal harm. If you reach the 42nd week of gestation, there is a good chance your doctor will start the induction process. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 20% of all labor is induced. 

If there are complications with the pregnancy and baby needs to be born before the expected due date, induction may start earlier than the 42nd week. Your doctor will examine your cervix, vitals, and health of the fetus more often as your due date approaches to ensure mother and child are healthy. 

Though there have been pregnancies that lasted longer than 42 weeks, maternal and fetal risk increases after the 42nd week due to placental age and other factors. If you are nearing your 42nd week and labor has not yet begun, you can expect your doctor will talk with you about induction soon.