Mom with newborn

Being able to pick your baby's due date may sound enticing, but it's worth waiting to avoid premature birth — you can avoid being induced with these tools.

Let your baby come
on his own time

Wouldn't it be awesome to know exactly when your baby's birthday will be? You may think so, but unless you or your baby have medical issues where the benefit of induction may outweigh the risks, it's usually best to wait for labor to start on its own.

Sure, it can be frustrating to go to bed every night around your due date wondering if you'll wake up in labor. And yes, in a perfect world maybe it would make your family's life easier if Baby didn't make his entrance while Dad's away on a business trip or be born on his big sister's birthday.

Reasons like these may seduce you to induce but none are ideal for you or your baby.

The risk of late pre-term birth

Why shouldn't you be seduced to induce? Primarily your baby's well-being. A full-term baby is born after the end of the 37th week. That said, due dates aren't an exact science, and inducing labor can mean a preterm baby whose lungs and brain haven't fully finished developing.

More about the third trimester: A guide to your baby's development >>

Many moms think of preterm babies as those born very early on, but according to the March of Dimes, most preterm babies are born between 34 and 36 weeks. The organization states, "While these babies are usually healthier than babies born earlier, they are three times more likely to die in the first year of life than full-term infants. They also are at increased risk of newborn health problems, including breathing and feeding problems."

Don't shorten your baby's stay >>

How will I know if I need to be induced?

You can find out well before your due date approaches what your doctor or midwife's protocol is for post-dates. Some providers let moms go a week past their estimated due dates, while others may wait until closer to two weeks. If your due date has come and gone, you'll likely be offered a non-stress test to check Baby's well-being. If you get closer to the 41- or 42-week mark, you may have a biophysical profile — another level of testing that also checks amniotic fluid levels and the placenta.

What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?

The two most important questions to ask when facing induction are:

  • Is everything OK with my baby?
  • Is everything OK with me?

If the answers to both are "yes!" then time is on your side and you can choose to wait for your body to spontaneously go into labor on its own.

Bottom line? Labor usually starts when your body — and your baby — is ready. Giving your baby the best chance at being full-term and healthy is worth the wait.

More about inducing labor

Can you induce labor naturally?
Having sex to induce labor
8 Natural ways to induce labor

Tags: labor induction


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