Inducing labor is a common process for many pregnancies. When it comes to labor and delivery, especially for your first baby, it can be tough to know what’s right and what isn’t. A lot of doctors talk about inducing labor for way more reasons than they should, so here’s all the reasons for why you shouldn’t.
I want to start this post off with a disclaimer. 1. To keep as few crazy comments off this post as possible. 2. To remind you that I am not a medical professional, and just an informed mom. SOMETIMES induction is necessary in emergency situations. I know this because I’ve been there. If your doctor says you need to be induced immediately for medical reasons, or you need an emergency induction, it does happen. It’s not the best scenario, but sometimes moms have to do what’s best for baby in a worst-case-scenario situation.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I can continue with Why You Shouldn’t Induce Your Labor. While there can and are real reasons to warrant inductions, often in the United States those are not the cause for induced labor. Your last month or two of pregnancy is difficult, and painful, and you’re tired and ready for that baby to begin life outside of your womb. BUT you should not induce your labor unless you ABSOLUTELY have to. Here are my reasons for why you shouldn’t induce your labor.
Are you a first time mom? Read FYI: The Truth About After Birth (what other Moms won’t tell you!)
Inducing Labor | Why You Shouldn’t
Due Dates Can Be Wrong
Babies don’t have calendars, and don’t care about a due date an ultrasound or doctor places on your pregnancy. Babies come when they are ready. They will not stay in your womb forever, and your baby is very likely not too big for you. Did you know that ultrasounds can measure a baby’s weight incorrectly by a margin of 10%-20%? Meaning an ultrasound could say that a baby weighs 9 lbs, when in fact it is actually of average weight. (From the Labor Progress Handbook)
In addition to weight, ultrasounds can be wrong. I know we all count on them to tell us how far along we are, or count on fundal height to give us an accurate measurement of how pregnant we are, but they can have a pretty wide margin of error. Ultrasounds done within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy have the most accuracy, and still have a margin of error of 1.2 weeks (Accuracy of Ultrasound Dating. University of Florida.) In addition to this, pregnancies are not exactly 40 weeks long. According to Lamaze childbirth educator, Deena Bloomfield, only 5% of women give birth on their due dates. In addition, she adds that women aren’t officially overdue until after 42 weeks of pregnancy.
So, if we do the math, and a woman can safely carry to 42 weeks gestation, and due dates can be off at minimum by 1.2 weeks, then you can potentially carry 3.2 weeks past your due date and still give birth to a baby who is not post-term. Just because your due date came and went 3 days ago, does not mean that your baby is late or that you need to talk about inducing labor. Both of my parents were delivered naturally, without c-section or induction, and both of them were born a month past their due date.
I know you’re thinking, “It’s labor. It’s going to hurt.” Yes, that’s true. Labor is painful. But inducing labor isn’t natural and is so much more painful than regular birth. With my first birth, labor inducing medicines caused my contractions to blend together, making them 3.5 hours of one giant contraction with no break in between. In chatting with many, many other moms who were also induced, and researching this further medically, this is a common side effect from the labor inducing medications. Inducing labor isn’t a natural labor and moves things that aren’t ready to be moved and it hurts. A lot. Regardless of whether or not you induce, this sitz bath was a LIFE saver for me! It was the best relief I had for after-delivery pain.
If you’re electing for an epidural, or think you will just get one if the pain is too much, there are some holes in that theory as well. First, there’s no guarantee that the epidural will be effective. Sometimes, more often than most people realize, the epidural won’t actually block you from feeling pain. In some rare circumstances, like with my Mama, the epidural can actually intensify your pain level. Secondly, by the time you may elect for an epidural, you may be too far into labor to receive one. Additionally, epidurals are commonly known to slow labor down, which is another negative when it comes to inducing labor.
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Increased Danger For You
Another reason again inducing labor, in addition to it hurting, is that inducement can actually increase the danger and harm done to your body during labor and delivery. Because your body isn’t ready for labor, and hasn’t had time to naturally prepare, inducement can cause you to tear more during delivery. With my first daughter, I was induced, I tore 14 times. My second daughter I was concerned about tearing because of all the scar tissue, but I wasn’t induced and only tore once. ONE TIME. In addition to vaginal tears, there is a risk for uterine tears with inducing labor as well. Typically this is more common in women who have had a past uterine surgery, or c-section, it is also possible in women who have never had any kind of uterine surgery. In some cases, your entire uterus may need to be removed. Inducing labor can also cause increased bleeding after delivery, and potential hemorrhage after birth. This is a result of the uterus failing to continue contracting after delivery (Mayo Clinic).
Increased Danger for Baby
One of the main reasons again inducing labor is the increased danger to your baby. Inducing meds can cause baby’s heart rate to drop and their blood pressure to be dangerously low. It can also cause serious stress to the baby, causing them danger and they could even swallow and inhale their own meconium (which is their first bowel movement and is poisonous for them to ingest and inhale) and can cause serious breathing issues for the baby. Babies who ingest and/or inhale their meconium may need immediate resuscitation at birth, or in severe cases, be placed on a ventilator (Stanford Children’s Health).
Increased Risk of C-Section
According to the Mayo Clinic, 25% of first-time pregnancies who induced labor will result in a C-Section. That means that there’s a 1 in 4 chance that if you attempt to induce your labor, you will end up having an emergency C-Section. Many times, more than I can even tell you, I see first time, and sometimes not even first-time moms, who go in to be induced for non-medical reasons, and their labor ends up in an emergency C-Section. The story goes something like this: Mom is due in two days and shows no progress of labor, or has arrived at her due date and isn’t in labor. Her doctor suggests scheduling an induction to move things along. Mom labors painfully for more than 24 hours with little to no progress. Baby’s heart rate drops, or baby is in obvious distress, or mom’s blood pressure spikes, resulting in an emergency C-Section. This happens because regardless of the DATE that was set for you to deliver your baby, you body and your baby were not ready. Forced labor is not natural labor and as a result, rarely is a good experience for mother or baby.
Wait for your baby, and wait for your body. It is very rare for a mother to actually NEED to be induced for medical reasons. Being pregnant, especially in the last month, is so difficult. It’s incredibly disheartening for your due date to come and go, but TRUST me when I say you do NOT want to be induced unless you absolutely have to. Summon all the patience you have within you, and wait until your body and your baby are ready to deliver. It’s all around better to deliver without inducing labor.