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Ask the Expert: Is induced birth best for overdue babies?

NHS midwife and author Clemmie Hooper, author of How To Grow A Baby – And Push It Out

Q: "I'm 40 and eight months pregnant and have been told my labour will be induced if my baby's overdue. Why is this? Isn't it better to let nature run its course and only induce the birth if the baby's very late?"

A: Clemmie Hooper, author of How To Grow A Baby – And Push It Out (Vermilion, £14.99), says: "Over the past four decades, there's been an increase in the number of women having their babies at the age of 35 and older. This is due to many factors including women choosing to focus on their careers first and the increase in women having fertility treatment to conceive.

"Recent studies have found there's an increased risk of women aged 40 and older having a stillbirth, with a rate of 0.81 per cent compared to women aged 18 to 34 who had a stillbirth rate of 0.47 per cent.

"The study estimated that if all women aged 40 and older were induced at 39 weeks instead of 41 weeks, it would prevent 17 stillbirths per year. Although the risk is small, the consequences are obviously devastating.

"A medical induction means some things may not be possible, such as a home birth or giving birth in a stand-alone birth centre.

"No-one can make you do anything without your consent, and you should be given the opportunity to discuss this thoroughly with your midwife or obstetrician.

"Understanding the risks and benefits associated with induction is important for you to be able to make an informed decision."

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