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When Will a Doctor Induce Labor?

Bradley G. Goldberg, M.D.


I am almost full term, and worried that the baby will be late. What happens if my due date comes and goes and the baby is still not here? At what point will doctors want to induce labor?

This is one of the most common questions asked of an Obstetrician. I must tell you that there are many correct ways to handle this situation, but I will give you my personal basic management plan.

A full term pregnancy is 40 weeks, this is how the due date is established. This only indicates the most likely time that a woman will go into labor. Actually, only one out of every twenty women will deliver on their due date. Most will deliver anywhere from two weeks before to two weeks after their due date.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists considers a pregnancy to be "post-term" or overdue at 42 weeks, which is 2 weeks after the due date. They actually do not recommend delivery before this time in a healthy woman who is having a normal, uneventful pregnancy.

However, most OB/GYN physicians will induce prior to this time if there is some dilatation of the cervix or if other conditions exist that may warrant an induction of labor. The American College also recommends that in the absence of problems with either the baby or the mother, a woman should not be induced until at least 39 weeks.

In my practice, if a woman is one week past their due date, and if their cervix has started to dilate, I will offer to induce them if they agree. If they do not want induction, or if their cervix has not dilated at all, then during the 41st week, they are seen twice at my office for an ultrasound to check the amniotic fluid level, and for a non-stress test of the baby. If either of these tests are abnormal, then I recommend induction.

If these tests are normal, then I will not bring the patient to the hospital until 2 weeks past their due date. For pregnancies at 42 weeks there are some studies to support continued close observation until natural labor ensues, but I believe that there is data to support delivering the baby to prevent bad outcomes after 42 weeks.

Again, these are my practice patterns, and your physician may be different, so I would suggest you also review this with your doctor.

Dr. Bradley G Goldberg is a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Goldberg is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Goldberg is Chief of Staff of Coffee Regional Medical Center. Currently, he is serving as Director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and he is the Chairman of the Perinatal Committee. Dr. Goldberg graduated from the University of Florida in 1989 as a member of The Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He received his medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine, and completed his internship and residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Georgia Baptist Medical Center in Atlanta.Dr. Goldberg is a member of the American Medical Association, The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, The Medical Association of Georgia, and The Atlanta Medical Association. Dr. Goldberg's wife Kimberly is a pediatric nurse. Together, they enjoy traveling and spending time with their family.

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Showing 1 - 10 out of 33 Comments
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lisa Dec 4, 2016 04:44:01 PM ET

I am 39 weeks and 5 days. I want to ask my doctor to induce me on Tuesday, witch is my due date and I will be 40 weeks pregnant. Do you think they will go ahead and do it?

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Breanna Oct 11, 2016 07:37:07 AM ET

I'm 39 weeks and recently moved. My medical took forever to get switched and now I don't have a ob to give me an induction date! What do I do ?

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Zulinette Aug 20, 2016 08:42:20 PM ET

I'm 40 weeks 3 days and still no baby. My doctor scheduled me a ultrasound on Monday and another appointment to discuss my induction day. I'm nervous but, I put everything in Gods hands. Good luck to you all .

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starr Mar 20, 2015 02:29:25 PM ET

I will be induced tomorrow on doctor's order. Should I deny it and wait for another week?

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Yamilex Jun 26, 2014 02:18:06 AM ET

38 weeks and 2 days, and have gestational diabetes. I'm not dilated. Is that bad?

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Amber Jun 17, 2014 01:47:20 AM ET

I am 38 weeks and 5 days. I will be 39 weeks on 6/18. My doctor said he will induce at 39 weeks. I know they are worried about me seeing mid wife this week, then doctor next. At 40 weeks and 1 day feel like they will never induce me!

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youngbloodr Jul 24, 2013 01:11:12 PM ET

Im 39wks due aug 5th. I been having a light period for 3days, been leaking the nasty snot mucus alot, contractions come and go and Im 4cm dilated. I seen my doctor 3 times this week and he keeps sending me home, gave me medicine to calm the contractions. Its getting really fustrating! I dont know what else to do

Guest Nov 19, 2014 02:52:55 AM ET

Go see someone else.

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Mz.tasia Apr 18, 2013 10:43:12 PM ET

I'm 35+5 and I'm 3cm and 70% effaced. I'm also a gestational diabetic and starting to contract Regular. I was told my bby was already 8 pounds Shouldn't they induce my labor especially with me having fevers too?

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majesty Apr 16, 2013 12:46:17 PM ET

I am 40 weeks and 4 days and were I live they want let yu go past 41 weeks so I am scheduled to go visit my doctor today to discuss induction, I may be going in tomorrow because I will be 41 weeks Friday!!! I haven't dilated at all but he is in position for birth so I can't wait to meet my buddle of joy WISH ME LUCK!!!

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Tawana Sep 19, 2012 12:20:27 AM ET

I am 6cm how far will my doctor make me dialate before inducing my labor i am 35 weeks

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