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Elective Labor Induction

When a woman's labor is started before natural labor begins, it is called labor induction. Your healthcare provider might suggest labor induction for a medical reason, whether it is for your health or the health of your baby. This is called an indicated labor induction. Sometimes, a woman desires to have labor started for convenience or personal choice; this is an elective labor induction.

Is Elective labor Induction Ok?

Deciding to have your healthcare provider induce labor before it starts on its own might sound like a good idea. Maybe you want to plan the birth of your baby for a special date, with a specific care provider, or you have relatives coming to help with other children. Or, the closer you get to your due date, you just might be ready to have your baby!

Sometimes though, elective labor induction may not be good for your baby. There are risks when labor is induced before you are 39 weeks pregnant and if the cervix (the part of the uterus that opens to allow the baby to pass through) is not ready. You and your care provider will decide together, using guidelines, when and if elective labor induction is ok for you and your baby.

Your Due Date

A full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks. Some women go into labor a little before or a little after 40 weeks, but delivery around this time assures your healthcare team that your baby is ready to come into the world. When you got pregnant, your due date was estimated, based on several things:

  • Your last menstrual period
  • Lab tests
  • Ultrasound results
What Do The Experts Say? 

The professional organization for doctors who deliver babies is The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). This organization has made some recommendations to help care providers make safe choices about elective induction. Before your labor can be induced:

  • Your due date must be certain to make sure your baby is fully developed
  • You must be at least 39 weeks pregnant
  • You should not have a past history of cesarean section or major surgery on the uterus
  • Your care provider should examine your cervix to determine if it is soft and ready to open (dilate). 

If you do not meet these guidelines, you and your care provider may choose to wait until labor begins naturally or some more time has passed. Don't worry! If your care provider recommends waiting and denies your request to be induced, the decision is best for you and your baby. If the guidelines are followed, you decrease your risk for:

  • A longer labor
  • Cesarean section
  • Infection
  • Giving birth to a premature baby