Scheduling baby's birthday
The culture - and risks - of elective induction

About this project

The practice of scheduling an early childbirth may be on the way out in California and the United States. Research shows that newborns have heightened health risks when deliveries occur in the 37th and 38th weeks of pregnancy. That’s led growing numbers of hospitals to prohibit doctors from scheduling deliveries during that time, unless there is a medical reason to deliver. It’s a pendulum swing for a practice of 'elective deliveries' that had gained growing favor, among both doctors and mothers, for the convenience of having a delivery on a date certain. The new trend also is shining a spotlight on labor inductions, which are now quite common but which carry their own risks of complications.


KPCC: Childbirth by appointment

Corrie Carroll’s husband travels for work a lot. So, when it came time to give birth to their daughter, the couple made an appointment. Carroll said the experience was perfect. “He arrived home from Europe on a Wednesday night and we drove to the...

Blog Posts

U.S. delivers too many preemies. California does too

If California were a country, it would tie with Fiji for the percentage of babies born too early. In 2010, nearly 10 babies out of every 100 were born before 37 weeks of gestation.

Questions and answers about early elective childbirth

We’ve reported extensively on how hospitals across the state and country are reducing early elective deliveries of babies.

The Myth of the Big Baby

My friend had been pushing for four hours. “You have a size nine baby coming out of a size seven pelvis,” her doctor said.



Lauren M. Whaley

Lauren M. Whaley

Lauren M. Whaley is a photographer, radio producer and print reporter specializing in topics related to mental illness, reproductive health care and health disparities. She is also a childbirth photographer.

This year, she is working on a series about how low-income parents access care for perinatal mental illnesses. The project is funded by the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism.

Whaley was a 2016-17 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.

Her work has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) STEM story project. She has contributed radio, video, photography and written stories to KQED Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, the San Jose Mercury News, the New York Times and other media outlets. For six years, I worked as the Center for Health Reporting's multimedia journalist, based in Los Angeles. She is a past president of the national organization Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) and spent her early 20s leading canoe expeditions for young women, including a solo-led 45-trip in the Canadian Arctic. 

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