It is not uncommon for pregnant women to become increasingly uncomfortable as their due date draws nearer. Despite thoroughly preparing for labor, these feelings can simply escalate, especially when you have gone beyond your estimated due date without any signs of labor beginning. You are likely having low energy, are experiencing substantial feelings of discomfort, and just want it to be time for your baby to come! This can make it extremely tempting to begin to look into inducing labor. We do not recommend that pregnant women have labor induced, because it can lead to additional health concerns and the likelihood of a less than ideal labor. Here are seven things that you need to know regarding inducing labor during the final stages of pregnancy.
1. What Inducing Labor Is
Inducing labor is when your healthcare professional uses medical techniques or medications in order to trigger the labor process. Though in some situations, elective induction may be available, it is a process that is used most commonly when it becomes medically necessary. Inducing labor is often not recommended for women who have previously had caesarean sections or issues during labor, as it leads to the increased risk of other problems. You should never induce labor without the recommendation of your healthcare provider. We find that inducing labor tends to lead to additional problems and do not recommend it for our patients.
2. Why Labor May Be Induced
Labor may be induced for many different reasons in order to prevent issues after pregnancy has gone beyond the due date. They are commonly used if the water has broken, but contractions haven’t begun. This is because the mother is at increased risk of infection after her water has broken. Infections in the uterus, a lack of amniotic fluid, issues with the placenta, or the baby not growing appropriately may all cause labor induction to be undertaken. In our practice, we do our best to not induce labor and generally counsel mothers to be patient and ready for their labor to begin. We believe that allowing labor to occur naturally will provide a multitude of benefits to both the mother and baby.
Doctors often recommend that a pregnant woman be induced at 39 weeks. This is often not due to medical reasons, but rather to convenience. Unfortunately, this often means that the body simply isn’t ready to go into labor. When labor is induced at this point, it is likely that problems will arise and the labor will be prolonged.
3. How Labor is Induced
There are many techniques that are used in order to induce labor. Not every technique guarantees the onset of labor and not every technique will be used in every situation. Stripping the membranes is one of the most commonly used ways to induce labor, because it is relatively non-invasive and a safer method. During this process, the healthcare professional inserts a gloved hand and uses a finger to help separate the membranes.
Labor may also be induced by manually breaking the water. This is done with a hook-like instrument that is used to break the amniotic sac and cause the water to break. In other situations, hormones, such as prostaglandin or oxytocin may be used to induce labor. These may come in gel form or in IV fluids, depending on the situation. Other tools, such as a Foley catheter, may be implemented to induce labor. This tool is essentially a small balloon that serves to expand and prepare the cervix for labor. The appropriate method will depend on your specific situation.
4. Risks Associated with Inducing Labor
It is important to ensure that labor is induced only as a final option, because there are several risks that are associated with inducing labor. For one thing, it is possible that the cervix is simply not ready for labor. This may result in a C-section becoming necessary. In addition, if methods for inducing labor don’t actually induce labor, it may be important to have a C-section to prevent infection or other issues. It is possible that the due date may have been incorrect. When you induce labor based on an incorrect due date, the baby will likely be pre-term. In addition, inducing labor comes with the possibility of uterine rupture, as well as heavy bleeding after delivery. You should never try to induce labor yourself.
One of the major issues with inducing labor is that it doesn’t allow the brain to be a part of the equation, which can make the labor process difficult. Most often, chemicals are introduced that mimic the natural oxytocin production that is used to tell the uterus to contract. When these chemicals are introduced, they don’t involve the brain. Allowing labor to occur naturally allows the body to work in symphony and provide optimal results. Inducing labor commonly results in a cascade of negative consequences. It can result in excess discomfort, which can lead to an increased risk of an epidural becoming necessary. From this point, the baby may have a reaction to the epidural, and you now require a caesarean, even though you were initially a low-risk case.
5. Inducing Labor Takes Time
Many people are unaware of the time associated with inducing labor. It is a common misconception that inducing labor will speed up the labor process. This is not the case. Inducing labor will likely take just as long as natural labor, if not longer. It often leads to additional complications, as well. Having labor induced is not going to shorten your labor.
6. You Can Ask Questions
It is difficult to be patient when your due date has passed. Feel free to ask us if you have any concerns or if you want tips to help make the waiting process easier. We are dedicated to providing you with the best services you need for your health and the health of your baby.
7. Natural Methods for Inducing Labor
There is little information to support that natural methods for inducing labor are effective. Many women swear by these methods, but there is no guarantee that they will work. Many people argue that having sex close to the due date will release hormones that may induce labor. In addition, exercise can potentially help to induce labor. If you intend to try any of these methods for inducing labor, you should consult with us in order to ensure that it is completely safe.
Here at My Family Birth Center, we strive to provide you with the information and guidance that you need to have the best possible prenatal, labor, and postpartum care possible. Our professionals are dedicated to providing you with the treatment that you need to protect your health and the health of your baby. To learn more about inducing labor and why we advise our patients in patience, contact our experts today!