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OB Guideline 14: Scheduled and Elective Delivery

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OB Guideline 14: Scheduled and Elective Delivery

Related to: Clinical Guidelines, Communication, Cures Act: Opening Notes, Nursing, Obstetrics

Elective Delivery refers to delivery of a normal pregnancy without a recognized birthing person or fetal indication.1

Scheduled Delivery refers to a purposely timed delivery for either induction of labor or for cesarean birth.

Delivery occurring more than seven days prior to the EDD is associated with an increased risk of adverse neonatal outcomes and may be associated with an increased risk of cesarean delivery in nulliparous patients. Therefore:

Elective delivery of singleton gestations should not be planned to occur before seven days prior to the EDD, i.e., prior to 39 weeks gestation.

When scheduled for birthing person or fetal indications, referred to as a "scheduled indicated delivery," the timing of delivery is determined by the medical situation.2

Confirmation of term gestation is dependent on satisfying at least one of the following gestational age criteria:3

  • known date of assisted reproductive technologic intervention,
  • an ultrasound measurement of the fetus obtained at <20 weeks gestation supports gestational age of 39 weeks or greater,
  • fetal heart tones have been documented as present for 30 weeks by Doppler, and
  • it has been 36 weeks since a serum or urine human chorionic gonadotropin pregnancy test has been positive.

A test indicating fetal lung maturity does not itself meet the criteria for elective delivery.


  1. Avoidance of non-medically indicated early term deliveries and associated neonatal morbidities. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 765. February 2019Reaffirmed 2021. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  2. Induction of labor. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 107. August 2009, Reaffirmed 2020. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
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August 8, 2022
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