Talking about OBGYN Care Practices

Taking Control Of Your Childbirth Experience: Should You Be Induced Labor At 39 Weeks?

When you are pregnant for the first time, there are a great many factors about pregnancy and childbirth that you simply do not know or understand. That is why you have your obstetrician and other pregnancy caregivers to help you out. However, you may still find yourself facing questions and decisions that you cannot answer easily. One such question is whether or not you should have your labor induced at 39 weeks if you have not already gone into labor. Get to know some of the facts about being induced at 39 weeks so that you can work with your pregnancy care team to make the right decision for you and your soon-to-be-born child.

39 Weeks Is Considered A Full-Term Pregnancy

In case you didn't know, 39 weeks is considered to be a full-term pregnancy. This means that your baby should be developmentally ready to make his or her entrance into the world and be able to function properly. That is why some doctors of obstetrics might encourage you to schedule your labor induction once you hit 39 weeks.

The Risk Of Stillbirth Increases With Longer Pregnancies

Once you reach about 37 or 38 weeks of pregnancy, the risk of having a child that is stillborn (has passed away prior to being born) increases exponentially. At 37 weeks, that risk is a mere 2.1 per 10,000 births. Should your pregnancy last 42 weeks, then the risk is 10.8 per 10,000. While these numbers are still relatively small, the percentage increase could be something to be concerned about if your pregnancy goes longer than term.

Conversely, however, the risk of your baby suffering from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) decreases with increased gestational age. This means that the longer you remain pregnant and carry your baby, the less likely they are to pass away from SIDS and other health complications after they are born. Balancing the risks of these and other infant health conditions is the reason that pre-term labor induction (before 39 weeks) is often discouraged by physicians.

The Risk Of Fetal Macrosomia Increases With Longer Pregnancies

Fetal macrosomia is the medical term for a baby that is born at a weight above what is considered normal or average. A child that weighs over 8 pounds, 13 ounces is thought to have fetal macrosomia.

While this may not seem like an immediate problem, there are risks of health problems both during childbirth and after the child is born that are associated with fetal macrosomia. During childbirth, a baby with fetal macrosomia is at increased risk for shoulder dystocia, a condition in which the baby's shoulder cannot pass through the birth canal. This forces doctors to perform an emergency C-section but can also cause bone fractures and other injuries to the child and the mother before the surgical intervention is completed.

After a child is born, even without shoulder dystocia, they will be at higher risk for childhood obesity (specifically adolescent obesity) and the associated health problems of that condition, such as juvenile diabetes. Inducing at 39 weeks could theoretically cut down on the likelihood that your child is born at an above average birth weight.

Now that you know more of the facts about your pregnancy and the risks of carrying your child past 39 weeks, you can better decide for yourself if inducing labor at 39 weeks is right for you. Contact a company like Desert Rose OBGYN PC for more information.