When to Start Labor
The first thing you will need to decide is if it appropriate to Induce Labor (start labor artificially). In most cases, women can safely go into labor on their own, even though this may mean waiting. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not recommend elective induction (starting labor without medical reason).
Some health care providers will recommend artificially starting labor if you experience certain problems with your pregnancy.
This is a dangerous condition in pregnancy. Left untreated it can send the mother into convulsions and can cause death. While some experts feel there is no clear indication of the cause of Toxemia, Dr. Thomas Brewer has conducted extensive research that concludes it is a nutritional problem that can be corrected during pregnancy.
For some women with gestational diabetes, health care providers suggest starting labor early to prevent problems in labor due to a "too big" baby. The concern is a baby whose bones, specifically the shoulders, are too large to be birthed safely. Gestational Diabetes appears in 2 - 12% of the population of the US (wide variation cited by researchers), and in most cases proper nutrition and exercise can have a tremendous impact on the health of the mother and baby.
The concern with a baby who is overdue is not that the baby is late, but that being late will cause a problem for the baby. Sometimes when a pregnancy goes over 42 weeks the placenta begins to age, decreasing its effectiveness at giving the baby oxygen and food. If this happens, the baby becomes sick and is considered "post mature." Because this only happens in pregnancies over 42 weeks, most health care providers will not allow a pregnancy to continue beyond that.
If your pregnancy has gone beyond the accepted norm of 42 weeks, it is possible that your baby is healthy and will benefit from more time in the uterus. To determine the health of your baby you may do fetal kick counting or you can undergo stress or non-stress tests in your doctor's office.
Some practitioners will suggest beginning labor if they believe the baby will be too large for the mother to give birth. There is no way for a doctor to accurately predict the size of the baby (ultrasound can be wrong a pound or more either way), or to predict the amount the pelvis will stretch during labor. The only way to accurately diagnose a baby that is too large to be born is to have a trial of labor with adequate pushing time.
A similar concern among mothers is often that a large baby is more difficult or painful to push out. At this it is important to remember that the difference between a baby born at 38 weeks and a baby born at 42 weeks is generally 2 pounds of fat (not bony tissues) since the major growth for the baby has been completed and the last month of pregnancy is spent in building fat supplies to help the baby survive the first week of life. Fatty tissue is mushy and pliable and can squeeze out easily. The size of bony tissue is more related to genetics than whether or not the baby had an extra week in the uterus.