Pregnant & Tired of Waiting? Risks of Early Elective Delivery

  • Topic Info:Pregnancy may seem like an overwhelmingly long waiting game to meet your baby, and as a result you might consider an early elective delivery.

    An early elective delivery is a non-medical procedure performed to deliver your baby on a specific date two or three weeks prior to your pregnancy's full term.

    According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, doctors have been warning against early elective delivery since 1979. However, some women do not want to wait the full 40 weeks and decide on an early elective delivery at 37-38 weeks.

    Even though it doesn't seem harmful to induce labor before the full term, there are some major risks for both you and your baby.

    One of the most significant risks is that your baby is still growing and developing organs up until the last week of your pregnancy. Your baby's lungs, brain and liver are among the last organs to develop at the end of your pregnancy.

    This means if you do decide to have an early elective delivery, there is a risk your baby has not fully developed those organs, which can cause short- and long-term health problems.

    Babies who are born too early also run the risk of suffering from breathing problems, respiratory distress syndrome, eating and feeding difficulties, vision and hearing problems, learning and/or behavior problems and not having the ability to regulate temperature.

    Why would a woman decide on this type of delivery? Why would it ever be recommended?

    The reasons for choosing an early elective delivery can vary. Perhaps all your family members are flying in from out of town to be there for the birth of your child, or your doctor wants you to schedule a predetermined date so you don't have to deal with an unfamiliar doctor should he or she become unavailable.

    These, however, are rather superficial reasons when you consider the risks.

    An early elective delivery would be recommended, however, if there is a serious health reason putting you or your baby at risk, or if labor starts on its own. Anything outside of that should be weighed heavily against the potential risks.

    What other information do you need to know about an early elective delivery?

    Obstetrician and gynecologist at CoxHealth, Staci Niemoth, MD, shares what an early elective delivery is, why some women are choosing to give birth early, and the major risks.
  • Host: Melanie Cole, MS