Early Induction: Why all the Hype?

The term “early induction” has been tossed around the Internet a lot lately– it has even shown up on mainstream media outlets like Wall Street Journaland BusinessWeek. What are they saying and what does it mean for pregnant women? Below are some basic points with links to more in-depth information from credible resources.

How early is an early induction?

An “early induction” is any induction that is performed before 39 weeks of pregnancy. Experts from several recognized organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Childbirth Connection and March of Dimes, state that a baby needs at least 39 completed weeks in order to fully develop their brain and other vital organs.

What are the risks of early induction?

Induction in and of itself carries risks to mom and baby. Because induction is an artificial process for starting labor, your body may not be ready to follow its cues. As a result, inductions can cause a cascade of additional medical processes (interventions) to keep labor going, which can ultimately lead to an increased risk for cesarean surgery. Unless there is clear medical indication (see below), letting labor begin on its own is the safest decision.

Induction before 39 weeks brings an additional risk of prematurity. Babies born even a little too early can experience complications like problems with breathing, feeding, maintaining body temperature and jaundice. In most cases, babies know best when it comes to being born.

What if I need to be induced?

There are solid medical reasons for induction before 39 weeks. Being done with being pregnant, isn’t one of them. ;) There are also several reasons given for induction that are not true medical reasons. It’s important to know the difference. Click through and read up on the two links provided above on the new induction resource page on Childbirth Connection, a not-for-profit organization founded that works to improve the quality of maternity care.

If you’re pregnant and faced with the decision to induce — and even if you’re not — read up! Inform yourself. Learn all that you can, from sources in addition to your care provider and other than well-meaning family and friends. Start here:

  • Childbirth Connection Induction of Labor Resource Site
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Labor Induction Guidelines Pamphlet
  • March of Dimes Induction Information
  • Guidelines from Lamaze on Induction here and here