Depending on who you ask, my due date is either January 4th or December 30th. The midwives are going with the later date, just to be safe. I tell people "around New Year's" when they ask. And, to my surprise, when I give this answer, I often get the same piece of advice- "You better get that baby out before the end of the year- you'll get the tax credit!"
It's a nice thought- $1,000 off my taxes to care for a child for 2010, when he or she was only in the world for a few days. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, maybe.
TIME is reporting today on a recent study that examines the use of c-sections and inductions before the due date:
A study published in the July issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found that among more than 7,800 women giving birth for the first time, those whose labor was induced were twice as likely to have a C-section delivery as those who experienced spontaneous labor...On one hand, it makes sense that people are suggesting I "get that baby out early". Almost half of moms are induced, so it's "normal"! Controlling the time of delivery makes sense! Why be up in the middle of the night? Why risk getting a doctor who isn't mine? And why miss out on the tax credit? On the other hand, inducing labor before my due date goes against longstanding ACOG guidelines, and doubles my risk for major abdominal surgery (among other unpleasant induction side effects). According to the same study, about a third of births happen via c-section in the US, so odds are already not that good. Those numbers are mind-boggling to me. I'm working to make my odds to avoid surgery as much in my favor as possible, so, barring any complications*, Baby will choose his or her own birthday. Baby will come when he or she is ready- fully cooked and developed, and when my body is ready to get Baby out.
In her study of ethnically and socioeconomically diverse mothers delivering before 41 weeks' gestation, who did not have pregnancies complicated by breech presentation, 44% of women had their labor induced. The rate is significant because ACOG guidelines, which have been in place since 1982, recommend against elective inductions in the early term, or anytime before 39 weeks...
In an editorial accompanying Ehrenthal's paper, Signore also suggests that the high rate of early-term induction may reflect lifestyle choices: health care providers' and new parents' desire to control the timing of delivery. "Many women believe that delivering a few weeks early is just as safe as delivering on the projected due date and may request delivery for any number of reasons of comfort or convenience," Signore writes. "However, we must remember that incautious use and timing of interventions — particularly in elective cases — can lead to unnecessarily poorer outcomes for women and newborns."
And the tax credit? The average first-time mom, when left to go into labor on her own, goes 8 days "overdue." Using that statistic, it puts this baby being born squarely in January (Just in case, though, I'm still sticking close to home for Christmas. Don't want a travel emergency!). I was my mom's first, however, and came two weeks early, so there is hope for a 2010 baby! Also? I joined my parents on January 2nd, and they missed the tax credit cut-off by just a couple days. Perhaps the irony of my due date is payback for my birthday, 27 years later!
* Disclaimer: There are very valid, medically-indicated reasons for having an induction or c-section, and I've had friends who have been helped by both these technologies in their specific situations. Technology absolutely should be used where appropriate and necessary.