Why You Don’t Want to Schedule an Induction

Why You Don't Want to Schedule an Induction | Baby Chick

By Nina Spears

The Baby Chick® & CEO of Baby Chick®

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Nina Spears is the Co-Founder & CEO of Baby Chick, an online go-to resource for all things motherhood and the Founder & CEO of Bassett Baby Planning, the premier doula agency and resource center in Houston, TX for expecting and new mothers. Read More

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 unless it’s absolutely medically necessary. They first need to know why it is important to avoid an unnecessary 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. However, this list covers the general rule not the few exceptions.

Why would I need an induction?

Your healthcare provider might recommend inducing labor for various reasons. Here are some examples that are good reasons for induction:

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  • 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.

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Can I wait for labor to begin naturally?

You normally are given 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 your medical team is afraid that it might complicate a vaginal delivery.
  • 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.

An induction is a good thing to do if you have tried everything in your power and baby is still not wanting to come out. It gives you a shot at a vaginal birth. But if an induction is not medically necessary and you are considering scheduling an induction for convenience. Because you’re over being pregnant and want to meet your baby, to make sure your doctor is on-call, to have your family in town. to have your baby born an a certain day. Those are reasons you might want to rethink your decision. Why? Let’s look at the risks.

What are the risks?

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 are 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.

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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. This is why it’s good to wait for your labor to begin on its own.

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.

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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.

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6. Your baby may experience harm caused by the mechanical force.

The strong force of the artificial contractions have the potential of damaging 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. This not common, but can happen.

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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 resulting in an emergency C-section.

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.

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10. You may not be able to experience a “natural birth” (a medication-free birth) 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 and 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 potentially an episiotomy. That’s a lot for your body to go through!

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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.

For first time mothers, 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.

14. Why you don’t want to 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 if you are considering this without medical reason. Work with your healthcare provider to make the best choice for you and your baby. I will say, if mother and baby are both healthy avoiding a labor induction is one of the best secrets to having a safe and gentle labor and delivery for both mother and baby.

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Image via Lamaze.org

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5 thoughts on “Why You Don’t Want to Schedule an Induction

  1. If the placenta completely detaches you won’t need to be induced you’ll have a dead baby.

  2. So if any of the situations listed at the beginning of the article happen, what do you suggest? It doesn’t seem like waiting for the body to start the labor on its own is an option when any of those issues happen. Should we then schedule a c-section?

    1. Hey, Vanessa! This post is really referring to the families that are wanting to schedule their induction before their due date due to convenience and not for medical reasons. If your body has not gone into labor on its own and you are getting closer to the 42 week mark, I would definitely recommend an induction first to try for a vaginal birth over a c-section. Unless you prefer a c-section. That is completely up to you. 🙂
      There are some families that want to schedule an induction so they can be sure that their doctor is there, or make sure that their family is in town, or have their baby born on a certain day, etc. These are not medical reasons to be induced. This is why we shared this post so people would understand a little better that inductions should really only be scheduled when medically necessary.
      Thank you so much for commenting and we wish you all the best at your baby’s birth. Congratulations!! xo

  3. I was induced on Tuesday and my due date was yesterday, I am very glad I didn’t read this article before that, I would have been so nervous!! Baby and I are doing amazing!

  4. I chose to induce because I was having so much pain with zero progression. I had my daughter on her due date and I’m glad I induced. The cord was wrapped around her neck and her heart rate kept dropping with each contraction (that was without pitocin). She passed meconium… I was gonna wait a couple days for the induction, but I’m so glad I did it when I did. My daughter may have been in a world of trouble had I waited the 2 days…

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