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Predicting Spontaneous Labor beyond 39 Weeks among Low-Risk Expectantly Managed Pregnant PatientsFunding A.N.B. was supported by K23HD103875 from the NICHD during the study. The other authors report no financial support.
Objectives The aim of the study was to identify the characteristics associated with spontaneous labor onset in pregnant patients undergoing expectant management at greater than 39 weeks' gestation and delineate perinatal outcomes associated with spontaneous labor compared with labor induction.
Study Design This was a retrospective cohort study of singleton pregnancies at ≥390/7 weeks' gestation delivered at a single center in 2013. The exclusion criteria were elective induction, cesarean delivery or presence of a medical indication for delivery at 39 weeks, more than one prior cesarean delivery, and fetal anomaly or demise. We evaluated prenatally available maternal characteristics as potential predictors of the primary outcome-spontaneous labor onset. Multivariable logistic regression was used to generate two parsimonious models: one with and one without third trimester cervical dilation. We also performed sensitivity analysis by parity and timing of cervical examination, and compared the mode of delivery and other secondary outcomes between patients who went into spontaneous labor and those who did not.
Results Of 707 eligible patients, 536 (75.8%) attained spontaneous labor and 171 (24.2%) did not. In the first model, maternal body mass index (BMI), parity, and substance use were identified as the most predictive factors. Overall, the model did not predict spontaneous labor (area under the curve [AUC]: 0.65; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.61–0.70) with high accuracy. The addition of third trimester cervical dilation in the second model did not significantly improve labor prediction (AUC: 0.66; 95% CI: 0.61–0.70; p = 0.76). These results did not differ by timing of cervical examination or parity. Patients admitted in spontaneous labor had lower odds of cesarean delivery (odds ratio [OR]: 0.33; 95% CI: 0.21–0.53) and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission (OR: 0.38; 95% CI: 0.15–0.94). Other perinatal outcomes were similar between the groups.
Conclusion Maternal characteristics did not predict spontaneous labor onset at ≥39 weeks' gestation with high accuracy. Patients should be counseled on the challenges of labor prediction regardless of parity and cervical examination, outcomes if spontaneous labor does not occur, and benefits of labor induction.
Majority of patients will attain spontaneous labor at ≥39 weeks.
Maternal characteristics do not predict labor at ≥39 weeks.
Spontaneous labor has associated lower perinatal risks.
A shared decision model should be utilized in counseling patients who may choose expectant management.
Presented at the 41st Annual Pregnancy Meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, January 25–30, 2021 (abstract no.: 1,138).
Received: 19 July 2022
Accepted: 22 May 2023
Accepted Manuscript online:
24 May 2023
Article published online:
28 June 2023
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