When does labor need to be induced?
If a pregnant woman is a few days overdue but there’s no sign of any problems, there’s little risk for the unborn child. But if the baby is more than one week late, inducing labor will lower the risk of complications.
Most babies are born around the estimated due date, usually within two weeks before or afterwards. Pregnancy is considered to be “full-term” at 40 weeks (or 280 days). A pregnancy that continues for longer than 42 weeks is called a post-term, prolonged or overdue pregnancy. If the mother and baby are both doing well, being up to one week “late” isn’t associated with any particular risks for either of them.
But after that, the likelihood of the mother or child developing health problems gradually increases. Labor can then be induced quickly, or the baby can be delivered by an operation known as a Cesarean section. This does not happen a lot, though, because most overdue women go into labor naturally before further steps become necessary.