It is becoming more common for mothers who are nearing the end of pregnancy to request an induction of labor early, but waiting until natural labor occurs is good for both the mother and the baby in a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy. A pregnancy is considered full term between weeks 37-40. Even though 37 weeks is the earliest point of a pregnancy being considered full-term, there is still so much growth and development that is happening in the last couple weeks of pregnancy.
It is hard to believe that there would be any benefit to the mother to stay pregnant any longer than she would absolutely have to, but there are several reasons to not induce labor unnecessarily (elective induction). Here are a few benefits for the mother:
- Increased likelihood that you will go into labor on your own when your body is ready, which can improve your labor experience
- Fewer medical interventions to start or continue the labor process
- Increased success with breastfeeding since the baby is more interested in eating
- Decreased chance of having a cesarean section
The baby seems to get the most benefit of not electively inducing labor. Here are some things mothers can focus on in the last weeks of pregnancy so they know they are doing the most for their baby:
- Important organs, especially the brain, have time to fully develop
- Less likely to have breathing, hearing or vision concerns immediately after birth and long-term
- Increased interest in eating and a better latch during breastfeeding
- Better at maintaining their body temperature and blood sugar levels following birth
- Able to transition to the outside world easier
- Less likely the baby will be separated from the mother for testing thus decreasing the initial mother-baby bonding
There are many favorable reasons to not pursue an elective induction that both the mother and the baby can benefit from. Ask your provider about helpful techniques that can mentally and physically help you with the last few weeks of pregnancy. Certified nurse-midwives are knowledgeable about ways that can help pregnant women get the most out of their pregnancies even in the last couple of weeks. In addition to caring for pregnant women, certified nurse-midwives also provide routine gynecological care to women of all ages. This includes pre-conceptual care, family planning, annual exams, contraceptive counseling and menopausal care.