Can You Induce Labor At 39 Weeks?

Although every pregnancy is unique in its own way, some have the distinction of feeling like they're going into overtime. And when you're in the latter stages of gestation, it's easy to wonder if there's anything you can do to hurry the process along. For instance, can you induce labor at 39 weeks, or is it better to hang in there until the baby decides to make her debut?

According to WebMD, the average pregnancy lasts 39 weeks, so you're definitely in good company if your pregnancy lingers this long. Granted, by this point, you're probably more than ready to get that baby out, already. So is there anything you can do to hurry the process along?

Possibly. Every pregnancy is different, but it looks like moms at the 39-week mark may have some backing from the medical community. As Errol Norwitz, Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tufts University School of Medicine, said in the Washington Post, "there is no benefit to the fetus waiting beyond 39 weeks in well-dated pregnancies." Although the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) still lists week 42 as the recommendation point for labor induction, it's understandable if a pregnant woman would prefer to deliver her baby sooner if possible. Three weeks can make a tremendous amount of difference in terms of your physical comfort that late in the game.

Of course, the decision of whether to induce will depend heavily on your own pregnancy, your individual health conditions, and the professional advice of your medical team. It's helpful to know the general stats and trends of pregnancies on the whole, but nothing can replace the advice of the professionals who know you and your developing baby best. If having to sit around idle starts to drive you bonkers, then you may also consider the possibilities of inducing labor naturally by engaging in light exercise or trying out foods such as castor oil (provided your doctors are on board). Whatever you are able to induce labor or find yourself playing the waiting game, remember that the end is in sight, and soon you will get to hold your new baby in your arms.