Induction is a hot topic. The word induction brings forth an array of emotions in women: relief, anger, frustration, excitement, confusion, exhaustion, etc. Powerful imagery brings to mind pitocin, contractions, epidurals… and the joy of knowing you get to meet your baby soon. Induction of labor is a tough subject, but let’s talk about it.
The Induction Decision
I wrote this blog post on induction to
a) sympathize with moms who have or will be in the position of their care providers pushing an induction. It’s a hard place to be in especially if that wasn’t your ideal birth experience. Also, to
b) remind moms that they are their own advocates, there is good research to be read and they can be a part of the decision making process in their prenatal and delivery care.
Reasons for Induction
Women get induced because they are told by their midwife or OB that the risks of waiting for labor to happen on its own are greater than the risks of a medical induction. Care providers want to avoid harm to the mother and baby.
Women may agree wholeheartedly and gladly get induced, others have their doubts but go along with the plan anyways, and others start asking questions.
Most already know the benefits of induction, but what are the risks? What are her alternatives?
If she asks these questions, will she get real answers? Or will her care provider blow her off, or even worse play the dead baby card (“If you don’t do ___________ your baby could die.”)?
For the latter, my heart goes out to these women.
These mamas don’t want to harm their baby, or themselves, but they just feel that being induced is going down a path that they desperately want to avoid. If they stop and notice what they are feeling and thinking, they might feel warning bells or red flags flying around.
However, it’s their CHILD in question here and they don’t want something bad to happen. I mean, as a mother she’s supposed to protect her from harm… and following her care provider’s recommendations would protect her, right?
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth
“Inducing labor is intrinsically ironic. It works best when least needed and often fails when needed most. It also causes the very problems it was intended to prevent.” – The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth
For a really good read on inductions check out The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer. If you like statistics and facts, this book is right up your alley.
However, the good thing is that you don’t have to read medical studies to get the good information because Henci did all the work for you. All you need to do is just read all the conclusions, but if you’re looking for extra credit, all the studies and references are noted in the back of the book.
I highly recommend this book especially for first time moms who haven’t done research about the ins and outs of prenatal care, care providers, childbirth, and birth outcomes.
Here are a few good and interesting induction facts I gleaned from reading Henci Goer’s book:
- Induced labors are harder on babies. It takes really hard contractions for a long time to get in a good labor pattern. Sometimes, drugs like Pitocin, Cervidil, and Cytotec can cause unnaturally long and close together contractions, which in turn can cause physical stress and harm to the baby.
- Inducing for convenience has been disapproved by the FDA.
- Ultrasounds can be off by +/-1-2 pounds so it would seem that an induction for a suspected “big baby” (per the results of an ultrasound) might not be the wisest solution. Especially since shoulder dystocia (SD) doesn’t have a strong tie to weight. (I was recently at a birth with SD and the baby was 6 pounds something! SD was resolved just fine, by the way, by a well-trained midwife.)
- The average length of pregnancy for first time moms goes to the 41st week… which means a postdates induction at 41 weeks just because a woman is 41 weeks is a bit silly. Give her a little bit more time… you’re stressin’ her out!
Making the Induction Decision
A big part of WHY I am ok with my induction is because I was an important part of the decision making process. I gathered information, and with my care provider, we made the best decision for my baby and I in that moment.
I am so grateful I had the tools to work with my care provider, advocate for myself and be a part of the decision making process.