A pregnant woman stands next to a crib and holds her belly.
The reasons for inducing labor vary, as do the benefits of not inducing labor. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

It’s common to be tired at the end of pregnancy, even exhausted.

Moms tell me they are ready to have the baby and just want to get it over with.

The end of pregnancy usually also results in backache, as the baby settles into a better birth position. Additionally, there is difficulty in doing normal daily activities with the added baby weight, plus a desire to soon meet your little one.

In years past, many women were induced (using medication or instruments to start labor) because she desired it. Reasons included having a relative coming into town, doctors wanting the birth to fit into their schedule, or just because.

We now know this isn’t the best for baby. “From 1990 to 2012, the rate of induction of labor more than doubled from 9.5 percent to 22.8 percent of all births in the US,” noted the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health.

The Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, published by the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses in 2012, had an article that stated, “Women experiencing labor by medical and/or elective induction have a significantly greater risk for cesarean birth (which is a major surgery) than women going into spontaneous labor. Having a cesarean procedure puts these women at risk for the potential complications associated with abdominal surgery, such as bleeding, adhesions, abnormal placenta implantation in future pregnancies and infection.”

The women’s health association also started the public campaign called “Going the 40.” This encourages moms to carry baby to 40 weeks, if possible, and gives reasons why. March of Dimes also has educational material that shows that at 35 weeks a baby’s brain weighs two-thirds of what it will at 39-40 weeks.

If baby’s weight is fine, why not induce? One of the last organs to fully develop is the lungs. Even though a baby’s weight seems OK, lung maturity is important. By avoiding inductions that aren’t medically necessary, we have seen:

  • Fewer Cesarean sections
  • Decline in preemies
  • Higher Apgar scores
  • Better position for delivery
  • Lower Neonatal Intensive Care Unit admissions

We also know that inductions cost more. One hospital in the Midwest placed a hard stop on their inductions—only for medical reasons, and it resulted in an estimated $1 billion savings, mostly from reduced NICU admissions.

So what are reasons to have an induction?

  • High blood pressure
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Pregnancy lasting 42 weeks
  • Concern for baby’s health
  • Your water broke but you haven’t started labor after a set number of hours (which depends on your provider)

Even though you may be at the end of your pregnancy and feel ready to meet your new little one, you want to avoid an induction unless medically necessary.