BookmarkBookmarkTickBookmarkAddCheckBoxFilledCheckBoxCircleBumpCheckedFilledMedical

Study Makes a Case for Inducing Labor After 39 Weeks

An elective induction is one way to avoid a c-section.
save article
profile picture of Anisa Arsenault
By Anisa Arsenault, Associate Editor
Published February 5, 2018
Woman in labor, partner wiping her forehead
Image: iStock

Something we hear from pregnant women more than you might think: They’d do anything to avoid a c-section. And if that’s true, a new study is highlighting one intervention method as particularly feasible: induction.

While more research is needed before any changes are made to clinical practices, researchers say inducing labor at 39 weeks among healthy, first-time moms reduces the rate of c-sections compared to women who wait for labor to begin on its own after 39 weeks. So, yes, that involves women opting for an elective induction—when it’s not medically necessary—for the sake of avoiding a c-section.

To be clear, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is not opposed to elective inductions. While the organization makes clear that, for the most part, “the ob-gyn may recommend induction if the pregnancy is post-term or if the health of the mother or fetus is at risk,” it also indicates that “labor might also be induced for elective (nonmedical) reasons, such as living far away from the hospital.” It all depends on what the OB thinks is best for a mother’s health.

That position bodes well for findings out of the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Researchers divided 6,100 pregnant women across the country into two groups. Half waited for labor to begin on its own, and intervention only occurred if complications arose. The other half underwent an elective induction at 39 weeks. The differences were slight, but present. Here’s what they found:

  • Lower rates of c-sections among the elective induction group (remember, inductions aren’t always successful): 19 percent compared to 22 percent
  • Lower rates of preeclampsia and gestational hypertension in the elective induction group: 9 percent compared to 14 percent

As it stands, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine does not recommend routine induction, even at 39 weeks. They’ll be evaluating the peer-reviewed version of their study before revising any of their current guidelines about induction.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List
ADVERTISEMENT

Next on Your Reading List

close up of pregnant belly at home
What You Need to Know About Losing Your Mucus Plug
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
man driving pregnant woman in car to hospital for labor and delivery
When to Go to the Hospital for Labor
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman in labor at hospital
Pooping During Labor—Will It Happen? (and How to Get Over It)
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
pregnant woman receiving an epidural during labor and delivery in hospital
Epidural 101: How It Works
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
Newborn baby resting on mother's chest after labor and delivery
The Best Labor and Delivery Gowns, According to New Moms
By Christin Perry
pregnant woman in hospital bed before delivery
What Happens at the Hospital When You Deliver
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
black pregnant woman in hospital bed for labor and delivery
These Are the Best Hospitals for Black Maternal Care, US News Reports
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
Jason Kelce poses for a photo with Kylie Kelce during the Kelce documentary premiere at Suzanne Roberts Theater on September 8, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Jason Kelce Shares 4 Delivery Room Essentials All Dads Should Have
By Wyndi Kappes
pregnant woman talking to doctor in exam room
What Is Cervical Effacement?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman in hospital bed during labor and delivery
13 Common Labor and Delivery Fears (and Facts to Quell Your Concerns)
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
castor oil on wood table
Is It Safe to Drink Castor Oil to Induce Labor?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman at doctor's office
Baby Is Coming: What to Know About Cervical Dilation
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
doctor examining pregnant woman's belly for membrane sweep
What Is a Membrane Sweep—and How Can It Induce Labor?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
evening primrose oil
Is It Safe to Induce Labor With Evening Primrose Oil?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
mother who just gave birth holding newborn baby in hospital bed
Expert Tips for How to Prevent Tearing During Birth
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
couple packing hospital bag for birth
Hospital Bag Checklist: What to Pack for Delivery
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman doing exercises to induce labor
Exercises to Help Induce Labor
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
What Does It Mean to Have a Breech Baby?
What Does It Mean to Have a Breech Baby?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman with IV in arm during labor
The Lowdown on Using Pitocin During Labor
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman sitting in bed
How to Do Perineal Massage to Prepare for a Vaginal Delivery
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
Article removed.