New Research Could Upset What We Think We Know About Giving Birth

When is a good time to have your baby? ‘When its good and ready’ may be the exact wrong answer.

Posted: Mar 19, 2018 3:42 PM
Updated: Mar 19, 2018 3:44 PM

Mesa, Ariz. — The days of women waiting to go into labor out of the blue may be past and gone. According to a new study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), there is a 16 percent decrease in the need for cesarean section when women are induced into labor early.

“For years, all obstetricians, certainly including myself, have been counselling our patients that they should wait for labor. At least for first time mothers, this is now clearly not the best idea,” said Dr. Greg J. Marchand, a leading OBGYN in Mesa, Ariz.

The randomized, prospective study involved more than 6000 births over three years. Results indicated that the baby’s weight—not cervical dilation—was the real determinant in whether a baby would need to be delivered vaginally or by cesarean section.

Cervical dilation refers to how open or soft the cervix is. Traditionally, obstetricians used this as their metric for determining when to induce labor.

“This really changes everything when planning the timing of delivery,” said Dr. Marchand. “Whereas it was previously standard to just wait for labor whenever it would occur, there is no denying this very high level of scientific evidence. If you’re pregnant with your first baby, and you want to have your baby vaginally, you should be induced no later than 39 weeks.”

The study also concluded that the induced mothers had less risk of high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia, and their babies had a lower risk of respiratory problems.

The NICHD is a division of the National Institute of Health.

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