New guidelines out today urge US doctors not to induce labor earlier than 39 weeks into a pregnancy unless there are compelling medical reasons, the Houston Chronicle reports. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued its first statement on induced labor since 1999, with the lead author calling it an “epidemic.” Inductions have more than doubled since 1990, to 225 instances per 1,000 births in 2006.
But the guidelines are non-binding, and some doctors say they don’t address the reasons that the procedure has become so common—requests by patients who are tired of pregnancy or want to make sure the labor process fits neatly into allotted time off from work. “People keep pushing to induce earlier and earlier,” says one Houston OB-GYN. Many “want to get the baby out before something goes wrong.”