Should I Have a Baby for Christmas?
A few years ago, NPR came out with a chart showing the most common days and times for births to occur. July and September are big months for babies to be born, apparently – and just as surprising, are the days that aren't!
The chart shows that almost no babies are born on Christmas and the surrounding few days. Western hospitals are very busy and hectic in the week leading up to Christmas as women undergo labor inductions and Cesarean births. Here are some possible reasons why this is such a common practice...
The doctor encourages induction so as not to have to attend a labor on Christmas Day
The parent requests an induction to avoid their baby “sharing a birthday” with Christmas
The parent requests an induction due to holiday travel timing
The parent requests an induction so that family visiting from out of town can meet the baby
The parent is pressured by relatives to have the baby before Christmas
Due to increased pressure by hospitals, the media, and parents themselves, many OB-GYNs are working to lower their Cesarean rates and aren't as quick to offer an induction. Most will no longer induce before 39-40 weeks thanks to current guidelines. However, more and more parents desire to meet their baby on their schedule and will ask for a medical induction of labor before Christmas.
While as doulas we support labor inductions all the time and recognize that women deserve choices and options, it's only fair to put all the info out there!
You're tired, sore, anxious, under pressure from family, and you want to get labor out of the way so you can enjoy the holiday. We've been there, and we so feel you. However, a labor induction which is not medically indicated can potentially cause a number of complications, which include but are not limited to:
increased risk of Cesarean birth
infant may require breathing assistance
An induction of labor is most likely to be successful if your body has already done a little bit of the work. If your cervix is anterior, soft, thinned out, and dilated at least a little, these are signs that your body may be ready to go into labor soon and may be more receptive to the medications used to induce labor. However, this isn't always the case, as many women, especially first-time moms, are very likely to wait until at least 40-41 weeks of pregnancy to spontaneously give birth.
What Are the Medical Indications for Labor Induction?
Maybe Christmas isn't a medical indication for inducing labor...but what is? These are a few possible complications which could signify that you and your baby would be healthier if you were to deliver sooner.
you are suffering from preeclampsia (symptoms include high blood pressure and protein in your urine)
your baby isn't growing properly for the gestational age
your water broke with no contractions
you are suffering from an infection of the uterus
If you are due around Christmas and are facing the possibility of induction, here are a couple questions you could ask yourself. “Who is this induction best for?” The answer should be you and your baby – not your partner, or their mother, the doctor, etc. “What would happen if my baby were born on Christmas?” Your doctor or midwife would put on their pants and catch the baby, and your baby would get double the presents.
Remember, as your doulas we are here to support you unconditionally in your wishes for your labor and delivery. Even if that labor and delivery happens on Christmas Day.
Have you ever had a holiday baby? What was your experience?