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Designer Deliveries–What Do You Think About Inducing Labor for the Mother’s Convenience?

Categories: healthcare, pregnancy


According to the calendar, I am 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant today. And according to what I can interpret of my own body’s signals, I’m no more likely to give birth today or tomorrow or next Sunday (my due date) than I was last week or the week before. Despite my doctor having told me a month ago that the baby was RIGHT THERE and that there was no way I’d make it to my due date, here I am, still round, still waiting, and now on the verge of what I’ve heard other women before me refer to as the “Oh my god, what if the baby NEVER comes out” stage.

Obviously, intellectually, I know as well as everyone else does that the baby will eventually come out. (And judging by the way he squirms and struggles against my stretched stomach these days, I think he wants to come out but just doesn’t know how. (Move toward the exit, little baby! It’s right in front of you!)) And although I also know obviously and intellectually that in a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy like the one I’ve enjoyed the best thing is to just let nature take its course and allow everything labor- and birth-related to take place in its own good time, I also can’t help wanting to just get it out of the way and meet my son already.

Of course, this isn’t just a normal, uncomplicated time of year to be dealing with everything labor- and birth-related, what with so many planned events depend on this one UNplanned event: we have family coming in from out of town, out of state, and out of the country this month, and then there’s the whole stress of not just giving birth in the days before Christmas 2008 year but having a child whose birthday forever rubs up against the busiest time of the year every year. Everyone keeps telling me that I should take advantage of this excuse for not going all out with decorations and shopping and homemade gifts and baking (baking for others, at least) this Christmas, but I still can’t help thinking about what it will be like NEXT year, and the year after that and the year after that, when I have to throw in a birthday party on top of everything else. It would be so much easier if the baby were coming in early December rather than mid- or late December. Or, you know, July. (We’ve actually discussed the possibility of half-birthday celebrations to avoid this conflict.)

Which brings me to my point. At a prenatal appointment a few weeks ago, I was mentioning how very much I hope the baby comes early so as to make the whole holiday/family situation easier on everyone, and my doctor’s response was, “Well, when would you like to schedule an induction? Does December 7 work for you?” Although I was taken aback that she seemed not only willing but eager to accommodate me in this way, I was mostly surprised at my reaction to the idea of induction in general. I hadn’t ever seriously considered it before then, so I wasn’t quite prepared to have reacted the way I did, which was negatively.

Sure, the idea of picking a date that works for my schedule seems like a good thing in theory, but I still couldn’t help feeling uncomfortable with the idea, I think mostly because I didn’t feel I’d be doing it for the “right reasons” (the definition of which varies from person to person). I mean, is it really okay to interfere with something so important and delicate in the name of convenience? And do I really think this is something I can, or should, control?     

Just this morning I was reading an article about C-sections in the latest American Baby that used the term “designer delivery” to describe births scheduled around things like travel plans or maternity leave–basically any inducement or elective C-section done without medical cause. What really got to me was the sentence “I’d like to deliver my baby by next Tuesday. My mother is flying in.” Oh my god! That’s me! And I don’t like the way that sounds!

There’s definitely a social stigma attached to planning a birth for non-medical reasons, but now that I’m considering the possibility myself*, I’m wondering if that’s fair? My doctor, whom I trust, is okay with it, and according to that C-section article, so is the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (so long as the baby has reached 39 weeks). What do you think? Would you (or did you) schedule your own birth for non-medical reasons? Are there certain reasons for doing so that you consider more “legitimate” than others (e.g., family visits, maternity leave limitations, holidays, the possibility of having to push out a gigantic baby if you go too far past your due date, omens in the astrological calendar)? 

*Although I’m still not comfortable with the idea of a full-on induction (i.e., breaking my water and/or starting a Pitocin IV), I am nevertheless mere hours away from having my membranes stripped, which stimulates labor about 50 percent of the time. With any luck I’ll be reporting back to you next Wednesday with the news that it worked! Stay tuned…)

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20 comments so far...

  • I can’t really comment from experience, obviously, but I tend to agree with your doctor on this one. If the child has reached a certain point, what’s really all that wrong (other than the raised eyebrows of people who just don’t know better or who wouldn’t have made the same choice, i.e. social stigma) with inducing? Sure, it would be ideal if the baby received the “we’re kind of busy next week, wish you could join us” memo, but if he’s just so comfy in there, he’s not budging, coaxing him out (in a very safe, doctor-sanctioned way) isn’t wrong, in my opinion. It’s just a matter of personal choice.

    I’m saying all this, in part, because I am convinced by my own week 39, I’ll be jumping at the mere suggestion of induction, since I can’t imagine being bigger than I am now and still finding a well of patience to tap into.

    She Likes Purple  |  December 10th, 2008 at 2:50 pm

  • I can completely relate to this conflict, having a baby that is actually due on Christmas Day. This week, I spoke to my doctor about scheduling an induction and I too am slightly torn between rushing nature and having a little extra assistance in helping baby decide that it is time to make his entrance. I am just about 38 weeks now. My next appointment will be at 39 weeks and I have decided that if my body looks somewhat ready to deliver then, I am going to go ahead and schedule an induction. The reality is that my doctor will be out of town over Christmas, I don’t want a total stranger delivering my baby and I do not really want to be in the hospital on Christmas Day. However, if my body is not ready (ie. my cervix is not dialated or effaced) , my doctor said that he would not schedule the induction at that time.

    You have to choose what is right for you. In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with scheduling an induction as long as you are aware of the potentially adverse consequences. You will need every bit of help that you can get with a new baby and if the parents are coming in to help there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of that help while you have it.

    Christmas Baby  |  December 10th, 2008 at 3:48 pm

  • I don’t judge anyone for their choice to induce. I remember those last weeks of pregnancy well, and know how difficult it is to wait. On the other hand, I don’t think I would choose it myself. I’m really in favor of natural childbirth for myself. I know from my own experience that interventions in the birth process are more likely to end in a c-section.

    bibi  |  December 11th, 2008 at 7:43 am

  • Personally, I wouldn’t be induced for my schedule. At least I don’t plan to be. I’m still at 33 weeks and it so easy to think of what I would and wouldn’t do when it is still 7 weeks away.

    One of my sister-in-law’s friends was just induced yesterday morning at 9am. By 5:00pm, she was only 3 cm dilated. More than 12 hours after being induced she was still not progressing with her labor very quickly. Plus, from everything I have read and learned in child birth classes, inducing usually leads to longer labors and higher rate of c-sections.

    Jenni  |  December 11th, 2008 at 8:17 am

  • I am strongly against it. Strongly.

    Medical inductions, sure. But, in my opinion, putting your child at risk (and there are increased risks with induction, including a higher likelihood of cesarean) for your own “convenience” is pretty darn selfish.

    Outside of legitimate medical exceptions, our bodies know when it’s time. Why mess with that?

    Robyn  |  December 11th, 2008 at 9:39 am

  • I really think it depends on the situation. Every pregnancy is different and every woman is different. CHild birth and rearing is difficult, so who are we to judge how another person deals with their circumstances?

    I have been induced with all 5 of my children. The first was 2 weeks overdue. I was so easily induced that my dr agreed to induce me for #2-#5, so that I wouldn’t have a middle of the night run to the hospital with a child(or children) at home. Also, I know that once my water is broken, things are fast and furious. My husband would not be able to handle a car or home birth. However, none of them were induced before their due dates. The idea of delivering early to have a smaller baby for convenience of healing faster is crazy! I have also heard of people who opt for a c section to avoid a vaginal delivery and the possible side effects of that.

    this my cookie  |  December 11th, 2008 at 10:56 am

  • Personally, I wouldn’t do it — but it’s the word “personally” that matters. It’s really between you and your doctor (who may just be thinking that she doesn’t want you birth interfering with her holiday plans, too! LOL). If your doctor says it’s safe and you feel you are doing it for the baby’s best interests (even if that means birthday parties that don’t conflict with the holidays) — well, then that’s up to you and don’t let anyone else judge.

    As an amusing aside, 46 years ago, Dad convinced Mom to induce on Dec. 31 (a week before due date) to get an extra tax deduction for the year. Sis held out and messed up his plans by being born in the wee hours of Jan 1 (forcing an annoyed nurse and doctor to miss their New Year’s Eve plans, and Dad to lose his tax break). Turns out, the technology then was not so great and the due date was wrong. Sis was a premie born under 5lbs (a bigger deal then than now), and is still acts angry about it because she never grew past 5 feet tall. Couldn’t happen that way today, but we still tease Dad about being such a cheapskate!

    Carrie  |  December 11th, 2008 at 11:55 am

  • I had to be induced at 42 weeks because he just didn’t want to come out although he was “ready” for two weeks prior. I had even started dialating but nothing. I ended up having to have an emergency C-section as I pushed for 2 hours and he was solidly stuck on my pelvic bone. I would definitely choose to plan the date next time. This time I don’t sit around and wait forever afraid to go anywhere because I might burst at any moment. I say, schedule it. Although, I would never think that it was a good idea to shcedule it prior to the baby being full term.

    The only thing that I did get to push for was a Saturday induction. My doctor wanted to do it Sunday for some reason and I begged for Saturday because my my dad and grandma were in town waiting for me to pop and had to leave Tuesday morning. I wanted them to have enough time with the new baby.

    Oceans Mom  |  December 11th, 2008 at 2:13 pm

  • My sister-in-law’s 3 children all have the 26th as their birth date…this was not a coincidence. She had planned c-sections for all of them, and I guess she liked them sharing that date. She admits that she thought her second was too small (he was full term, but he was smaller than her first), yet she still went ahead and scheduled her third c-section!

    I don’t know, I’ve never been pregnant, but I have a real problem accepting the fact that she rushed nature just so she could have cute matching birth dates for her children. Of course, she also dresses them in matching outfits, but that’s a whole other topic. I guess she likes cuteness? It disturbs me, and if I could avoid interfering with my child’s delivery date, I would.

    GJ  |  December 11th, 2008 at 2:17 pm

  • Just want to note that inducing because of being past your due date is a medical reason, not a convenience reason. At that point, it can be dangerous for the baby to remain in-utero because of decreasing amniotic fluid levels and other complications.

    Robyn  |  December 12th, 2008 at 8:33 am

  • I wouldn’t consider it. I know only one woman personally who did this, and her child has some rather significant developmental issues (physical and mental). Sure, the doctor will say this had nothing to do with inducing, but look at all the other procedures that have been considered “safe” / “advisable” in past years and are now considered unsafe or unnecessary. Personally, I don’t even give my kids Tylenol unless they have a high fever that I can’t bring down any other way; nor do I take any drugs other than a rare dose of aspirin. So for me, I wouldn’t even consider inducing labor other than to resolve a significant medical issue.

    If I recall correctly, this is your first child, right? You may end up late by the “average” benchmark, but this might not actually be late for you personally. Five of my mom’s six kids were “late,” but when they got around to it, their births were normal and healthy.

    SKL  |  December 12th, 2008 at 9:41 am

  • I can’t give you any advice on what you should do from the parenting side of things - but I can tell you about my mom and my brother and I.

    My little brother was born on December 7 and I was born on January 24, so I can understand your apprehension about the whole ‘birthday around the holidays’ thing. The way we always worked it in my family was that we would have cake and ice cream on the actual day of birth, but wait until it warmed up enough outside to have the birthday party for our friends. I had pool parties every year for my birthday until I got old enough not to have a “birthday” party every year. I do remember being mad that I couldn’t have my party on my birthday, but looking back it made more sense for everyone - plus, I got presents twice a year for my birthday, which was totally fine with me.

    As for getting induced, I was three weeks late (I was due on January 1st) AND a giant baby. The doctor thought I was twins for a while right after my mom got pregnant because she blew up like a balloon. I don’t think that you should induce just as a way to ease your schedule, but don’t feel bad if you reach the point where the baby STILL is showing no signs of making his appearance in the world in a week or so. It will make the labor easier on you and possibly help to avoid any medical complications you might run into as a result of have a 9 or 10 pound baby (although you haven’t said how much he weighs now so he might not this big) trying to make it’s way out of you. My mother was 30 minutes away from have an emergency C-section with me, and the only reason she didn’t was because she agreed to let them use the tongs.

    So there you go. Some advice from a chick who has no children (and hopefully won’t for many, many years) but does happen to have a winter birthday. I hope that your labor and delivery and quick and as painless as they can make it for you.

    SuperCareo  |  December 12th, 2008 at 10:35 am

  • I didn’t have to make the choice since my daughter was breech and I knew that I was having a c section. However, she came earlier than the scheduled appointment. I had some discussion with my doctor prior to learning about the breech position about induction etc on the advice of my friends who were already moms to gather as much information as possible. It is a personal choice and no matter who you talk to you will hear good or bad tales. The most important thing is for you to make the best choice for you, your baby and your family.

    Heather  |  December 12th, 2008 at 12:45 pm

  • When I was considering induction (I was living in England) my doctor said there are three good reasons to induce:

    1) The baby needs to come out for medical reasons (pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, etc)

    2) The baby is overdue

    3) The mother simply cannot stand it any longer (mentally, physically, whatever) (I loved him for this)

    I ended up getting induced at 41 weeks b/c I was nervous about any bad outcomes. I had ZERO signs of labor and the induction was long and arduous, resulting in a forceps delivery and super-painful episiotomy. If and when I have to do it over, I may try to stick it out till 42 weeks and let things happen on their own a little more. Then again, a friend of mine was induced at 39 weeks b/c her doctor was going on vacation and had the smoothest delivery I’ve ever heard of! Same with my SIL who was induced closer to her due date. I guess everybody’s body is different. Do what feels right!

    KidKate  |  December 12th, 2008 at 8:40 pm

  • I absolutely HATE the idea of women planning unecessary inductions. Being a woman who had to fight for my right to have a vaginal birth after cesarean, every time I see a woman choose to have inductions and c-sections it makes me sick.

    Each time a woman schedules a birth for non-medical reasons it furthers the idea that c-sections and convenience are the way to go. When truly they are not. It also makes medical providers believe that this is what all women want. And why wouldn’t a medical provider want a scheduled induction or cesarean? It fits into their 9-5 schedule so nicely. So of course the ACOG backs this sort of practice. Because ACOG is all about their convenience and a lot of cover your ass tactics.

    If you want the truth on the matter, look up studies that are not backed by ACOG. Read the information out there showing that inductions and cesareans for non-medical reasons are often times harmful in the long run. Visit to read up on the real statistics about cesareans, artificial inductions, and “convenience” births.

    And while you’re out there planning your birth around your schedule, stop for a moment and think about how easy it is for you to have a baby the way nature did not intend it, all the while women are literally fighting tooth and nail in the US to have babies the way that nature did intend it.

    Jen  |  December 13th, 2008 at 7:21 am

  • We did this. Our doctor said that all of his twin pregnancies started having major complications after 37 weeks. Plus our lower twin was breech. So we had a scheduled section, and all went fine. Babies were 5.5 and 6 lbs, and have hit all their milestones as if they were singletons.
    It worked out great for us.

    spacegeek  |  December 14th, 2008 at 9:45 am

  • I just have to add something I meant to say in my original comment. Once you’re a mom, you might as well get used to things happening “not” in accordance with your schedule or preference. It’s not the real world for a mom of an infant. I always wonder if people who think they are going to plan the birth so precisely really think they are going to remain totally in control of circumstances from there on out. Even an induced birth isn’t all that predictable. I guess I’m just as bothered by the mindset as by the risks.

    My friend who did this had the birth as planned, and has spent the next 3.5 years adjusting her life around her child’s doctor visits, therapies, and limitations. I think a woman who doesn’t realize a mom’s life isn’t predictable needs a wake-up call, preferably before the little schedule-buster arrives.

    SKL  |  December 14th, 2008 at 9:20 pm

  • An unnecessary (non-medical) induction puts the baby at greater risk than a spotaneous labour. Medically necessary inductions are chosen when the risk of the child staying in there are greater than those posed by an induction. Why would you deliberately choose to increase the risk to your child, no matter how slightly?

    MaryP  |  December 16th, 2008 at 12:21 pm

  • Oh, and good luck with the upcoming (perhaps already happened??) labour!

    MaryP  |  December 16th, 2008 at 12:23 pm

  • I’ve had two kids. One came when he was ready almost on his due date. Totally natural childbirth and all was well. With my second I was a week overdue and I was induced. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. It was absolutely horrible, went over two days and I had to have an epidural to stand the pain. Agony and if it weren’t for the fact that I might be carrying a four year old now I wouldn’t have done it at all.

    Scheduling a c-section is a different issue than inducing labor. Unless it is done for an emergency all c-sections are “scheduled”. Inducing for convenience is selfish, foolish and adds risk to your child. Believe me, I work with infants and toddlers under age three with disabilities. Even though we seem to have forgotten labor and delivery is a normal, natural thing that has been done for thousands of years.

    Katbur  |  December 30th, 2008 at 2:28 pm