Why You Don't Want To Schedule an Induction - Baby Chick
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Why You Don’t Want To Schedule an Induction

Find out why you might medically need an induction, why some are unnecessary, and what you should consider before scheduling one.

Updated May 9, 2024 Opinion

by Nina Spears

The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert

A common decision that many parents face today during pregnancy is whether or not they should be induced. An induction happens when a pregnant woman’s labor is artificially started, usually with the synthetic form of oxytocinPitocin.2 Sometimes, an induction is medically necessary, so we encourage you to move forward and schedule an induction!2 You rock it, mama! But other times, parents choose to schedule an induction out of convenience and not for good health reasons.

Parents should be aware that it’s not always a good idea to be induced when it’s not medically necessary.6 They need to know why it’s important to avoid scheduling an induction if your baby and your body are not ready and why it’s important to allow labor to begin naturally and without any interference.

Why Would I Need To Schedule an Induction?

Your healthcare provider might recommend inducing labor for various reasons. For example, here are some reasons to schedule an induction according to the Mayo Clinic:7,8

  • You’re approaching two weeks beyond your due date, and labor hasn’t started naturally.
  • Your water has broken, but you’re not having contractions.
  • There’s an infection in your uterus.
  • Your baby has stopped growing at the expected pace.
  • There’s not enough amniotic fluid surrounding the baby (oligohydramnios).
  • Your placenta is calcifying (they may say “getting tired”).
  • The placenta peels away from the uterus’ inner wall before delivery — either partially or completely (placental abruption).
  • You have a medical condition that might put you or your baby at risk, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Can I Wait for Labor To Begin Naturally?

You usually have up to two weeks after your due date, and in some cases, only one week before you are scheduled to be induced (read 12 ways to induce labor naturally).6,7 The longer your pregnancy continues, the larger your baby is likely to be — which medical staff is afraid might complicate a vaginal delivery.7 In other cases, aging of the placenta might compromise a baby’s ability to thrive in the womb. An overdue baby is also more likely to inhale fecal waste (meconium) during childbirth, which can cause breathing problems or a lung infection after birth.7

What Are the Risks of Labor Induction?

Here are the risks and reasons why you would want to avoid scheduling labor induction in childbirth:

1. You Could Be at Risk of Delivering a Premature Baby

Studies are showing that babies who are even slightly premature have more problems at birth and beyond.1 There are no proven health benefits of forcing your baby from the womb before they have had enough time to develop properly.1 In the last few days before the birth of your baby, the final layers of fat are placed, and the lungs receive the finishing touches even as you are going through labor.6 All this will help baby be comfortable in a change of environment. If you are a first-time mother, your baby will likely be ready to be born eight days after your estimated due date.

2. Your Baby May Experience Heart Decelerations

The medications used to induce labor — oxytocin or prostaglandin — might provoke too many contractions too close together and lead to too strong of contractions.2,9 All this can diminish your baby’s oxygen supply and lower their heart rate.2 This causes more interventions to be performed, which then increases your chances of a cesarean section.9

3. You May Get an Infection

Some labor induction methods might increase the risk of infection for both you and baby. These include stripping or sweeping the membranes, breaking water, or placing a balloon catheter (also known as a Foley catheter) or seaweed rods into the cervix.2,10,11,12

4. Your Labor May Become More Painful and Prolonged

Your contractions may become too long, too strong, and too close together, causing you to be more uncomfortable and tired and potentially putting your baby in distress.2,7,9 Yes, the medical staff can turn your Pitocin off and/or lower the dosage, but this doesn’t always make the mother feel like the intensity of her contractions has lessened.

5. You May Not Be Ready (Physiologically or Emotionally) To Give Birth

Understanding that hormones will release from the baby, which actively starts labor, puts “waiting until the baby is ready” in a better perspective. In most cases, this will signal the body to begin preparing at the appropriate time.13 The body also will receive feedback through this hormone signaling process to aid the body in handling the stresses it will undergo. Inducing labor could cause unnecessary stress on your body and your baby. Additionally, it prevents your body from responding and coping appropriately.3,6

6. Your Baby May Experience Harm Caused by Mechanical Force

The force of the artificial contractions could potentially damage your baby’s brain and affect their ability to breathe.3 Babies who find themselves on respirators inside the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) are often the result of interventions.14

7. You May Be at Risk of Secondary Infertility

Infertility is a risk of labor induction due to the increased risk of damage to your uterus caused by uterine rupture.2,15

8. You May Be at Risk of Bleeding Throughout Your Labor and After Childbirth

This happens because of the damage caused to your uterus by the induction drugs, creating a greater difficulty in caring for the new baby and the increased possibility of prolonged postnatal depression caused by the induction drugs. It’s common to have bloody show during labor and lochia after childbirth, but inductions cause women to bleed more.2

9. You May Not Be Able To Avoid Pain-Relieving Medication (Like an Epidural)

You may not be able to avoid pain-relieving medication (like an epidural) due to the abnormally increased pain during labor. Few women can have an induced birth without additional drugs to handle the increased pain from artificial contractions. However, some women do! As a birth doula, I have personally helped several women achieve this, but it is still incredibly challenging.

10. You Could Unknowingly Trigger a Cascade of Medical Interventions

You may have begun your induction with Cervidil to help ripen your cervix and then went to Pitocin or Cytotec to help dilate.4,5 Because of the strong medications to force your cervix to thin and open, multiple narcotic drugs for relieving increased pain are common. This means you may choose an analgesic drug (Nubain, Demerol, Stadol, etc.) or an anesthetic (epidural or spinal block); an epidural is the most common.17 Then, you need a bladder catheter, continuous fetal monitoring, your blood pressure checked every 15-30 minutes, and potentially an assisted vaginal birth (forceps or the use of a vacuum extractor or even an episiotomy).18,19 That’s a lot for your body to go through!

11. You Could Have a Uterine Rupture

According to the Mayo Clinic, this rare but serious complication occurs when baby breaks through the uterus wall into the mother’s abdomen. Cases like this occur in women who have a scarred uterus.2,7 (This means if you’ve had a previous C-section, you cannot be induced because that increases your chances of uterine rupture.16) You’d need an emergency C-section to prevent life-threatening complications if this happens.2,7

Why You DON’T Want To Schedule an Induction

If you don’t induce your labor and allow it to begin normally instead, your:3,13,20,21

  • Contractions may be less painful than they would be with Pitocin.
  • Labor may be shorter and more productive. (Your body will be ready for it!)
  • Baby may be able to breathe better.
  • Health costs associated with your birth may be reduced.
  • Need for pain medication may be less, which helps save you money.
  • Delivery may be shorter.
  • Recovery may be faster.
  • Baby (and you) may be healthier as a result.
  • Baby may breastfeed more easily.
  • Ability to bond and attach to your new baby may be easier.

The Bottom Line . . .

Image via lamaze.org

Inducing labor is a serious decision. Again, if it’s medically necessary, do it! But if you are just tired of being pregnant, or you want your baby born on a specific date, or your family or doctor will be in town, it might not be worth it in the long run. Work with your healthcare provider to make the best choice for you and your baby. But I will say that avoiding a labor induction is one of the best secrets to having safe and gentle labor and delivery for both mother and baby!

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Nina Spears The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert
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Nina is The Baby Chick® & Editor-in-Chief of Baby Chick®. She received her baby planning certification in early 2011 and began attending births that same year. Since then, Nina has… Read more

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