Women experiencing typical pregnancies are not offered the option of inducing labor at 39 weeks. That might change.
A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”) suggests that electively inducing labor 1 week before the due date decreases the risk of complications and lead to a safer delivery. New mothers whose labor was induced in week 39 (instead of waiting for labor to begin naturally) were less likely to require a C-section and had lower rates of preeclampsia and other complications. The research also established inducing at 39 weeks did not increase the chances of stillbirth or other severe complications compared to mothers who were not induced. The detailed results of this pivotal NIH study were just published in the New England Journal of Medicine: Labor Induction versus Expectant Management in Low-Risk Nulliparous Women.
It was previously believed that early induction of labor significantly increases the likelihood of an emergency cesarean delivery in response to complications. This made many doctors reluctant to induce any time before 40 weeks, but no comprehensive study had ever been done before. The Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch at NIH funded the study in an effort to fill this data gap.