Birth doesn't follow a "schedule"
For 9 months a baby grows at their appropriate pace. Some babies grow a little bigger then others, some a little faster. When a mother sees her midwife or OB for the first time after becoming pregnant, the first thing discussed is the "due date" (approx. 40 weeks gestation). Most midwives respect that this is an estimate, and would rarely try to induce labor to meet this "deadline" (unless of course mother and baby's health is in danger). Only 5% of babies actually arrive on their due date - and I think that is more of a coincidence and the mother's subconscious doing - (remember how I said in a previous post that the mind a very powerful tool and can control the body!? I think some mothers are so excited at the arrival of the due date, that they go into labor!)
Unfortunately, many OB's will consider you "overdue" if you go past 41 weeks and will induce labor. If mother and baby are healthy, vitals are normal, and her water has not broken, there is no reason to induce labor. Some doctors like to coax mothers into induction..."You are huge! You must be so uncomfortable? We can induce labor, get you going and you'll see you baby in no time!" That might sound heavenly to a new, and probably exhausted mother, along with all the "advise" from family and friends to "just go for it!". But the educated mama will know that inducing labor with Pitocin will highly increase her chance of a hard labor, and will usually end with a c-section. She also knows that it is not up to her, but up to her baby when he will want to make his grand entrance into the world.
Early induction does not just occur in a hospital setting. I know of many couples that had planned homebirths, and were so ready for baby to arrive, that they started "natural induction" as early as 37/38 weeks! While these induction might not be with "drugs" per se, (but with herbs and acupuncture) they are starting labor before baby is ready to arrive. I don't understand it - you have been pregnant for 9 months! What's a few more days or a week?
Question: What if the "due date" is off by a week or two? What if you are actually inducing a 38-week pregnancy instead of a 40-week (or worse, a 35-week vs. a 37-week!) and the baby is still growing? The lungs are the last to develop, and what if they are not ready? Then that baby might have to be put on oxygen, or need breathing assistance and is away from mom, breastfeeding and bonding. Is that really worth the induction? NO! Is it worth the guessing game? NO! We are not here to play God, and is not up to us to decide a baby's birth day. He will arrive when he is ready.
According to a TIME Magazine article: "Pregnancy lasts 40 weeks for a reason. At 35 weeks, a baby's brain tips the scales at just two-thirds of what it will weigh by weeks 39 to 40. Going full-term gives a baby's lungs time to mature and improves a baby's ability to suck and swallow. But too many doctors - and moms - are disregarding advice from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to wait until at least 39 weeks to deliver. Desire for convenience and an intolerance for the unpredictability of labor have resulted in thousands of babies being born too early, according to The Leapfrog Group, which tracks hospital quality. Now the March of Dimes is calling on hospitals to solve the problem by requiring every physician who schedules an elective delivery before 39 weeks to justify its medical necessity. “Doctors know it's not right, but they just aren't being held accountable,” says Alan Fleischman, medical director of the March of Dimes. It's kind of surprising that insurance providers haven't curtailed the practice of early elective deliveries entirely as babies born sooner tend to have more health complications and cost more. Even babies delivered at 37 to 38 weeks can end up costing 10 times as much as a full-term newborn, according to the March of Dimes. One study found that reducing early elective deliveries to under 2% could save close to $1 billion in health care each year.
Lets also consider c-sections. When the mother has an elective c-section, her OB will schedule on a day and time that not only works best for him, but is a week or two prior to her "due date". This will ensure that she will not be in labor and her uterus will not be contracting when he performs the surgery. Busy schedules seem to take precedence over the health of the baby. And the mothers rarely speak up. After all, they are ready to meet their new baby. A 10:00am appointment sure sounds better then a 3:00am one. Why wait? Well, first of all, OB doctors are skilled enough with c-sections that they can do it with a contracting uterus (think about emergency c-sections!). Secondly, this takes away even the little bit of control that the mother will have over her pregnancy and birth.