By Jaimie Ramsey, Contributing Writer
When Your Doctor Wants to Induce Labor
Gone are the days when babies always came on their own timeline. Now, if a baby hasn’t arrived by their “due date,” most doctors will want to induce labor. Some even schedule inductions before the due date. Other doctors will encourage induction for other reasons that aren’t medically necessary.
If your doctor wants to induce labor, but you’re not sure that he or she has a good reason, read on. There are some legitimate reasons to induce labor, in order to protect the health of you and your baby. Make sure you know exactly why your doctor wants to induce before agreeing to it.
4 Reasons To Say No
1. Your Doctor Has a Tight Schedule and Wants to Have Control Over When Your Baby Arrives
This is probably the worst possible reason! If your doctor is impatient for your labor to begin because they have more than one patient due the same day, for example, or if they’re going to be on a vacation when your due date arrives, you might want to find a different care provider. Some doctors schedule C-sections for the same reason. A C-section should only be performed if it is absolutely medically necessary—not for anyone’s “convenience.”
2. You’ve Gone Past Your Due Date
Again, unless there’s a medically necessary reason (see below), being “late” is not a good reason to induce (even if you are so tired of being pregnant and just ready to meet this baby already!). Many doctors will get antsy after you hit that 40-week mark, but remind them that the due date is an estimate and that, especially for first babies, reaching 41 or even 42 weeks is not unusual. Again, as long as you and your baby are healthy, there’s no reason to not wait for your body to start labor on its own.
3. Your Doctor Suspects a “Big” Baby
There’s no way to measure a baby 100% accurately when they’re in the womb. Even ultrasounds can only give an estimate. It’s very rare for a woman to not be able to give birth vaginally because of a “too big” baby. Don’t let your doctor scare you into inducing too early, or scheduling a C-section, just because of the baby’s size.
4. You’ve Had Very Fast Labors in the Past
If you’re afraid you won’t get to the hospital in time, plan ahead–don’t plan for an induction. If you live quite a distance from the hospital, stay with friends or family or in a hotel nearby. And make sure you have supplies at home and in your car just in case.
Risks and Problems With Inductions
Inductions carry with them some really serious risks.
Pitocin causes much stronger, harder contractions than oxytocin (the natural hormone that your body makes) does, and those stronger contractions are not only more painful for the mama but a lot harder on the baby. Inducing too soon can result in a premature baby, who can have breathing problems, among other issues.
Pitocin-induced labors have a higher chance of resulting in more interventions, like an epidural, forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery, or a C-section. Cytotec-induced labors can cause the baby to go into distress and can cause ruptured membranes, which is very serious.
(As a side note, my doctor was concerned that my fluid levels were too low, so I was induced with Cytotec at 42 weeks. We found that my son had passed some meconium in utero, and had inhaled some fluid which required his lungs to be suctioned immediately after birth. While I wouldn’t recommend induction with Cytotec, we were grateful that my son was born when he was, so that other problems could be prevented.)
When Inducing is Wise
There are good, legitimate, medically necessary reasons to induce.
If the mom is experiencing preeclampsia, if there is a dangerously low level of amniotic fluid, if the mom’s or the baby’s health is threatened, if there is a problem with the placenta, an induction can be life-saving for mom, baby or both.
But because of the risks involved with induction, make sure that if you and your care provider do choose to induce, it’s for the right reason. No woman has been pregnant forever–even if it feels like it for you! And finally, make the choice that is healthiest and safest for both you and your baby.