Let That Baby Grow: The Risks Of Elective Near-Term Inductions

When you first became pregnant, your obstetrics specialist told you your estimated due date. He or she likely got this date from your last period or an early dating ultrasound. Your due date assumes that you'll have a 40 week pregnancy for full development of your baby.

In recent years, more women have been undergoing elective inductions at or before 39 weeks even though there is no medical reason.

Maybe you're uncomfortable, or you want to make sure you're not delivering with an on-call OB. No matter the reason, you should know the health risks to you and your newborn when considering an elective near-term induction.

Lack of Fetal Development

Fetal development can be confusing because many sources tell mothers that babies can be born healthy after 37 weeks.

However, several parts of your baby's body aren't fully developed until 39 weeks of pregnancy:

  • The brain continues to grow throughout third trimester, and it grows rapidly in the last weeks of pregnancy.
  • Babies born before 39 weeks have an increased risk of respiratory distress in delivery.
  • The liver is still developing, putting the newborn at increased risk of jaundice at or after birth.

Risk of C-Section

As you approach your due date, your body will naturally release chemicals to soften and dilate your cervix. As you efface, the baby will drop lower into your pelvis to prepare for delivery. Although this can be uncomfortable, it is healthy and normal.

Pitocin is a widely used medication that mimics oxytocin, the natural hormone that brings on labor. This was a great medical advancement for at-risk pregnant mothers or fetuses. Of course, it does have its own risks since it can't exactly mimic oxytocin.

Pitocin tends to bring on hard and intense contractions for dilation. This leads to the increased use of epidurals, which have a tendency to slow contractions and progression. This leads to the use of more Pitocin.

This back-and-forth causes a variety of complications, resulting in an increased risk of C-section. C-sections require longer recovery periods, delayed bonding, longer hospital stays, and higher medical bills.

Difficulty Nursing

Pitocin causes many reactions in the body. For example, it prevents the natural release of oxytocin at the end of labor and delivery. Oxytocin is the hormone directly related to your bonding with your newborn. It also helps promote milk production for nursing mothers.

It's important to attempt nursing as soon as possible after the baby is born to help with growth, bonding, and milk production. If oxytocin can't be released, this becomes more difficult for many mothers.

No matter how excited you are to meet your little one, it's important to give him or her the best start possible. As long as you and your baby are healthy during pregnancy, waiting until you're both ready gives you both the best chance of a routine, uncomplicated labor.