When I was newly pregnant with my second baby, I went to my first appointment with my doctor. Before I even got back to the exam room, the nurse used a little cardboard wheel to calculate my due date as December 25. “Christmas Day! We’ll go ahead and schedule you for an induction today so you don’t have to worry about having your baby on Christmas.” I was six weeks along, and I declined to schedule an induction at that appointment. It was offered to me every single visit the whole pregnancy!
Luckily, Callie came on her own – no induction necessary – two weeks before Christmas. Not without a whole lot of people telling me I was “crazy” for not scheduling, that my daughter would grow up to hate me if she ended up born on Christmas, etc. Everyone and their brother seemed to have an opinion on it, and it felt like a whole lot of pressure I didn’t want.
My experience isn’t unusual. Inductions tend to spike just before holidays, and I’m pretty sure medical complications don’t. Take a look at this set of charts of the most popular birth dates in the US over a decade and a half:
Do you see the significant drops on Christmas/Christmas Eve, Independence Day, and the dates where Thanksgiving can fall?
Because inductions come with a higher risk of complications, many of them making it harder for your baby to adjust to life after birth, be very cautious about inducing to avoid being in the hospital. You don’t want to end up spending the holiday in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit! I’ve seen this happen twice.
The American College of Nurse Midwives is pretty blunt about inductions without medical reason. Their position paper states ” induction of labor without an evidence-based medical indication –
often termed elective induction –is not an evidence-based practice and represents a misapplication of obstetric interventions.” Doctors agree, the guidelines on induction from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states “Although there are specific indications for delivery before 39 weeks of gestation, a nonmedically indicated early-term delivery is not appropriate.”
Keep in mind that DIY “natural inductions” are still induction. They do carry the same potential risks as medical inductions. If your baby isn’t ready for birth at 39 weeks, it doesn’t make much difference if you use Pitocin or castor oil to make labor start. The baby isn’t ready either way. This year, give your baby the gift of a best start in life and let them choose when they are ready to come.