Inducing labor at 41 weeks: is it necessary? Straight talk on induction. Babble.com’s Parental Advisory.

My baby is due on December 15th, and one of the doctors in my practice (not my main doctor, but the back-up guy) casually mentioned that they induce at 41 weeks. I went home and did some research on this and learned that it’s not necessary to induce at 41 weeks just ’cause. I had my first baby in a birth centre in Australia ten days past the “due date” and there was never a mention of inducing nor was there a problem with the baby. I’m afraid I’ll be late again. But I don’t want to be induced! I had a natural birth last time. What can I do? Should I fight my ob/gyn on this? – Racing with the Clock

Dear Racing,

You’re right. There is no reason to induce at 41 weeks just ’cause. Some suggest that the due date should actually be more like a due month. A woman can give birth three weeks before or two weeks after the 40-week “due date” and still be considered normal full term pregnancy. A due date is an estimate to help give us an idea about when the baby will come out. It’s not a deadline. Nor is it commonly adhered to: Only 5% of babies are born on their due dates! So many factors influence the gestational clock. Some women see patterns in their births; there’s a chance you’ll be late this time, too. But subsequent births can also come a little sooner than previous ones. So you may be post due date this time, but not quite as post. It’s not a science, though our current maternity care model tends to treat it like one.

However, before we jump to conclusions and get into a major rant about the medicalization of birth, try talking to your ob/gyn. Bypass the back-up doc, and go directly to your primary caregiver, as he or she may know more about you, your situation and/or attitude. Confronting a care provider about a difference of opinion doesn’t have to be, well, confrontational. Storming in with a stack of evidence-based printouts about the arbitrariness of due dates and the horrors of induction may not be the best initial approach. It’s a bit of a stretch, but maybe the back-up doc was just trying to be helpful and thinks induction will help you with your holiday planning! You can only find out by asking.

Be very direct. Ask for the reasoning behind the 41-week induction. Express your desire to be given as much time as possible. You may want to bring up the ACOG guidelines, which call for induction after 42 weeks (at that point, they say, risks to both the baby and the mother begin to outweigh the potential risks of induction). If the practice has a different policy, ask why and whether there’s any leeway. Try to have a productive conversation. You’ll want to trust your doctors’ decisions once labor starts but you also want to be sure they know your priorities beforehand. As a last resort – if you’re feeling really railroaded and you’re not given good reasons – you could look for a second opinion or switch caregivers. This can be really, really hard to do late in the game, but not impossible. Ideally, you’ll be able to come to an understanding. Or maybe your baby will just have exceptionally good timing.

Have a question? Email parentaladvisory@babble.com

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Article Posted 11 years Ago

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