New guidelines for inducing labor

July 21, 2009 2:55:06 PM PDT
Women hoping to wrap up their pregnancy a bit earlier than Mother Nature intends may be in for a surprise. Unless there is an urgent need, there is a big change in recommendations for inducing labor. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says, in a non-urgent situation, women now need to be 39 weeks along before they should be induced.

Labor usually starts on its own, but the process can be helped along with medication.

Previous guidelines found it all right to induce as long as the baby was full term, about 37 weeks. The new recommendations state that the gestational age of the baby needs to be at least 39 weeks.

The guidelines also warn doctors against using the drug misoprostol to induce labor in women who have had a prior c-section, due to the possibility of harm to both the mother and baby.