Inducing Labor is NOT a Matter of Convenience
In the words of the American Pregnancy Association, many expectant parents mistakenly seek to jump start the labor process “for purposes of convenience or to accommodate busy schedules.” Over the years, a number of folk treatments, from castor oil and spicy foods to long walks and sexual intercourse, have promised to induce labor “naturally.” The vast majority of medical professionals and childbirth specialists, however, discount these at-home induction methods as absolute nonsense…and that’s a good thing! Unless it is conducted under the advisement and supervision of a doctor or midwife, induction can cause many unnecessary risks to mother and baby alike.
When to Induce Labor
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other medical experts agree that, barring significant complications, it’s preferable to allow labor begin on its own and evolve naturally. Generally speaking, inducing labor should only be considered when there are medical reasons that may put the health of the mother or baby at risk. Your doctor is the best person to determine whether or not an induction should be considered. The following are the most common situations that may warrant safe and medically directed labor induction:
The expectant mother is past her due date
Beyond 40 weeks of pregnancy, medical complications become significantly more likely for both mother and baby. If an expectant mother is pregnant beyond 40 weeks, her doctor will begin twice weekly fetal monitoring.
The expectant mother’s water breaks, but labor doesn’t begin
The chance of infection increases after the breaking of the amniotic sac. Although it can be perfectly safe to allow labor to continue naturally after a woman’s water breaks, many doctors and midwives will suggest induction if the labor does not begin or progress after several hours.
The expectant mother has a known health issue that places her or her baby at risk
Medical conditions that may lead to induction include (but not limited to) diabetes, preeclampsia, low amniotic fluid or excessive amniotic fluid and high blood pressure.
The baby is experiencing significant difficulties in utero
Thanks to modern medical tests and monitoring devices, doctors and midwives can assess the general well being of a baby in the womb. If a baby is experiencing an abnormal heart rate or growth pattern, induction may ultimately become a necessity.
When to Wait to Induce Labor
If your doctor recommends inducing labor, there is most likely a good reason. Sometimes labor is induced for non-medical or “elective” reasons. It may be tempting to induce labor to better accommodate your schedule or the schedule of your medical team, but sometimes it is better to let your baby arrive in his or her own good time. This is something you should discuss with your doctor to determine which option is best for you and your baby.
Induction should not be pursued prior to 39 weeks gestation when there are no medical indications. Always consult with your doctor regarding the best situation for you and your baby.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you have health concerns that may require induction or if you are considering having your labor induced for any reason, consult with a trained medical professional as soon as possible. Dr. Kristine A. Eule, MD at Denver Tech Center OBGYN, would be more than happy to speak with you about the induction process and its inherent risks and benefits. Interested women can contact Dr. Eule and her team at 303-770-0665 to schedule an appointment.