Why You Don’t Want to Schedule an Induction
A common decision that many parents face today during pregnancy is whether or not they should be induced. An induction happens when the labor of a pregnant woman is artificially started, usually with the synthetic form of oxytocin, pitocin. What parents need to learn is that it’s not always a good idea to get induced. They need to know why it is important to avoid an induction and why it is important to allow labor to begin normally and naturally without any interference. There are rare circumstances where induction will prove beneficial for overall health of mother and baby, but this list covers the general rule not the very few exceptions.
Why would I need an induction?
Your healthcare provider might recommend inducing labor for various reasons. For example:
- 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).
- The placenta peels away from the inner wall of the uterus 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 normally have up to two weeks after your due date, and in some cases only one week, before you are scheduled to be induced. (Find some ways to naturally induce yourself here.) Why the concern after two weeks? The longer your pregnancy continues, the larger your baby is likely to be — which medical staff is afraid that it might complicate a vaginal delivery. In a few 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. These are the concerns.
What are the risks?
Here are the risks and reasons why you would want to avoid induction in childbirth:
1. You will 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. There is no proven health benefits to forcing your baby from the womb before your baby has had enough time to properly develop. Even in the last few days before the birth of your baby, the final layers of fat are placed, the lungs are receiving the finishing touches even as you are going through labor. All of this will help your baby to be comfortable in a change of environment. Your baby will most likely be ready ten days after your estimated due date, especially if you are a first time mother. There are no studies showing any benefit whatsoever to artificially starting labor and there are many studies showing the risk of premature birth to every baby. Wait for your labor to begin normally and naturally.
2. Your baby may experience a low heart rate.
The medications used to induce labor — oxytocin or a prostaglandin — might provoke too many contractions, which can diminish your baby’s oxygen supply and lower your baby’s heart rate.
3. You may get an infection.
Some methods of labor induction, such as stripping or sweeping the membranes, breaking water, or placing a balloon catheter or seaweed rods into the cervix, might increase the risk of infection for both you and baby.
4. Your labor may become more painful and prolonged.
Your contractions may be too long, too strong and too close together causing your baby to have difficulty breathing and your contractions to be less effective. Yes, the medical staff can turn it off and/or lower the dosage of pitocin, but this doesn’t always lessen the intensity of your contractions.
5. You may not be ready physiologically or emotionally to give birth.
Understanding the fact hormones released from the baby actually activate labor puts “waiting until the baby is ready” in better perspective. This will, in most cases, signal the body to begin preparing at the appropriate time. And the body also will receive feedback through this hormone signaling process to begin secreting opiates to aide the body in handling the stresses it will undergo. Inducing labor will cause unnecessary stress on your body and your baby. Additionally, it prevents your body from responding and coping appropriately.
6. Your baby may experience harm caused by the mechanical force.
The force of the artificial contractions can damage your baby’s brain and affect your baby’s ability to breathe. Babies that find themselves on respirators inside the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) are most often the result of interventions.
7. Your baby may have umbilical cord problems.
Inducing labor increases the risk of the umbilical cord slipping into the vagina before delivery (umbilical cord prolapse), which might compress the cord and decrease your baby’s oxygen supply.
8. You may be at risk of secondary infertility.
Infertility is a risk due to the increase of the risk of damage to your uterus caused by uterine rupture.
9. 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 along with the increased possibility of prolonged postnatal depression caused by the induction drugs. I will say that it’s common to have bloody show during labor and lochia after childbirth, but inductions do cause women to bleed more.
10. You may not be able to experience a “natural birth” (no pain medication) due to the abnormally increased pain during labor.
The narcotics used in an epidural cross the placenta and cause increased stress on your baby as the narcotics hit your baby’s immature liver and brain causing a decrease in their cardiac and brain function. Your baby might likely find it harder to breathe because of this. Your baby will then have difficulty breastfeeding because of the afterlife of the narcotics.
Also, very few women are able to have an induced birth without additional drugs to handle the increased pain from the artificial contractions, but there are some women who do. I have personally helped several women achieve this as their birth doula, but it is still incredibly challenging.
11. You will unknowingly trigger a cascade of medical interventions.
You may have begun your induction with cervidil or cytotec to help ripen your cervix and then went to pitocin to dilate. Because of the strong medications to force your cervix to thin an open, multiple narcotic drugs for increased pain are common. This means that you may choose an analgesic (Nubain, Demerol, Stadol, etc.) or an anesthetic (epidural or spinal block) which an epidural is the most common. Then you will need a bladder catheter, continuous fetal monitoring, checking your blood pressure every 15 to 30 minutes, potentially an assisted vaginal birth with forceps or the use of a vacuum extractor and even an episiotomy. That’s a lot for your body to go through!
12. You could have uterine rupture.
This is a rare but serious complication in which the baby breaks through the wall of the uterus into the mother’s abdomen. Cases like this occur in women who have a scarred uterus. (This means if you’ve had a previous C-section you cannot be induced because that increases your chances of uterine rupture.) An emergency C-section is needed to prevent life-threatening complications if this happens.
13. You are electing to automatically be at high risk for emergency cesarean delivery.
Did you know that you are DOUBLING your chances for a C-section when you have an induction? The rate is nearly 50%. You could simply have a friend flip a coin to determine your likelihood of a cesarean birth. This is frighteningly high because many induced labors fail and leave both mom and baby in medical distress. Also, the risk of a C-section with induction is also higher if you’ve never had a baby before.
14. The WHOLE PURPOSE to NOT be induced!
If you don’t induce your labor, and allow your labor to begin normally:
- Your labor may be less painful.
- Your labor may be shorter and more productive. (Your body will be ready for it).
- Your baby may be able to breathe better.
- You may reduce your risk of cesarean section.
- You may reduce the health costs associated with your birth.
- You may have less need for pain medication, which helps save money.
- You may have a shorter delivery.
- You may have a faster recovery.
- You and your baby may be healthier as a result.
- Your baby may breastfeed more easily.
- You may find it easier to bond and attach to your new baby.
Inducing labor is a serious decision. Work with your healthcare provider to make the best choice for you and your baby. But I will say, avoiding a labor induction is one of the best secrets to having a safe and gentle labor and delivery for both mother and baby.