Should Labor Be Induced at 39 Weeks?

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According to a recent research study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), induced labor after 39 weeks in healthy women may reduce the need for a C-section and might offer additional health safety benefits to the mother and newborn. In fact, the recent study results suggest inducing labor early in healthy women may also reduce the risk of preeclampsia, and the need for infant respiratory support.

In my near three-decade- career as a practicing ob-gyn, I can attest that in the past doctors did not recommend inducing labor for convenience and inductions were typically were only done for medical reasons and only at 41 weeks of pregnancy and beyond.


The new study compares women who were managed as expected versus inducing at 39 weeks, and there were some startling results:

  • The women induced at 39 weeks had few complications and lowered cesarean deliveries than those using expectant management (meaning waiting for labor to begin and progress without intervention)
  • There was a reduction in hypertensive complications in the induced group at 39 weeks.

The study’s findings are compelling because in the past there was fear that if you induced women sooner than 41 weeks you increase the possibility of adverse outcomes increased as well.  This study dispelled that fear; however, one must have an accurate due date to avoid delivering the baby too soon or too late.


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Follow Dr. Linda on Facebook | Order your copy of The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy: How to Minimize Risks, Avoid Complications, and Have a Healthy Baby | Dr. Linda is a board certified Ob/Gyn and an expert in the area of pre-eclampsia and high-risk pregnancies. Contact Dr. Linda about an appearance at your next event or media placement opportunities.

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