39 Weeks Pregnant

39 Weeks Pregnant Lesson: Inducing Labor

Did you know that only 5 percent of babies are actually born on their due dates? If you have passed your due date, this is normal and does not mean anything is wrong. In some pregnancies, however, your doctor might have concerns about the baby's health, your health, or both and labor will need to be induced. Inducing labor means that your doctor will start your labor through artificial means. Most doctors will wait one to two weeks after a woman's due date before considering inducing labor.
Some reasons why a woman might need to have labor induced include the following:
  • A woman might have a chronic illness, like high blood pressure or diabetes, that threatens the health of the baby.
  • The baby might not be growing or thriving in the uterus. Sometimes, the uterus can become unhealthy for the baby.
  • A woman might have the membranes that surround the fetus rupture (or have her "water break") without going into labor naturally within a reasonable amount of time.
Your healthcare provider can induce labor during a vaginal exam -- your doctor might rupture or strip the membranes surrounding the fetus or insert a gel or suppository containing a hormone to stimulate contractions. A drug called Pitocin® can also be given intravenously through a vein in your arm or hand to start contractions.
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