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"Best of" Week: Robin Elise Weiss

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Five Reasons to Avoid Induction of Labor

Your feet are swollen and your back is killing you. Sleeping upright is the only way that you can manage to fall asleep between the demands of your bladder and your baby’s kicking spells. This is the life of a pregnant mother in her ninth month. The offer of a way out of this physically uncomfortable conundrum appears at first to be a blessing. This is the seduction of induction.

Let’s face it, the induction of labor has become common place, so common place, in fact, that the average length of pregnancy has dropped nearly a week in most recent studies. This medical eviction notice can have pretty severe down sides.

Your baby may be at risk for prematurity. Occasionally labor is induced before the baby is ready. New studies show us that babies who are even slightly premature have more problems at birth and beyond, even without a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Labor can be more painful. Because of the faster lead up to strong contractions that come on at an unnatural rate and pattern, this medical form of labor may take your body by surprise. Some also say that this is due to your baby being in a less favorable position, since he or she didn’t send the all clear signal for labor to begin.

Emotionally you may not be ready. In normal birth, labor begins on its own. You may have had ideas about how labor would begin for you. Perhaps you saw yourself making a mad dash to the hospital in the middle of the night or couldn’t wait until your water broke. This can be difficult to reconcile with the actuality of induction.

There is the risk of harm to you or your baby. Sometimes when labor is induced, the baby does not tolerate the contractions well. This can lead to fetal distress. When certain medications are used to induce labor, there is an increase in the risk of damage to the uterus in the form of uterine rupture. These are not conditions that happen often but should be considered.

You are more likely to have interventions in labor and birth. This includes interventions to help monitor you and keep your baby safe while they use strong medications to force your cervix open, like continuous fetal monitoring. It can also include an increase in the number of forceps deliveries and the use of a vacuum extractor and the number of cesarean deliveries. It is also possible that the induction may not work and you are either sent home or surgically delivered via a cesarean because of the failure of the induction.

There are times when labor induction is medically indicated. When induction is truly needed it can be a blessing. However, there are still ways to reduce the side effects of induction and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. Be sure to discuss options for induction that are specific to you and your baby with your midwife or doctor.


This post was submitted by the author for “Best of” Week.


A certified childbirth educator, doula and mother of eight, Robin Elise Weiss has attended over 500 births since 1989. Since 1996, her web site, the Pregnancy-Birth site at About.com has grown to be one of the largest and most well-read pregnancy sites on the Internet. Her latest book The Complete Illustrated Guide to Pregnancy is now available at amazon.com or wherever childbirth books are sold. You can read her other works at: http://robineliseweiss.com and http://pregnancy.about.com


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Reader Comments (6)

I always love to see warnings about induction. If I could just make one recommendation to a pregnant woman, it would be "Don't let them induce you." I am much stronger than Robin in saying "It WILL be more painful". Women who have started their previous birth naturally will tell you that nothing compares with the pain of an induced birth. Many nurses call births induced by Cytotec a "CytoBlast". That tells us something about the effect of this off label substance. Nurses tell me that it is the worst transition you will ever watch a woman go through when that Cytotec induced woman is 9 cms dilated.

There is also no doubt that the induced woman will be continuously monitored. Anything else would be irresponsible. Many doctors have no idea that anyone can give birth without induction and augmentation.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGloria Lemay

People need to know that there are similar pitfalls (pun intended!) of "natural inductions".....I am convinced that trying to jumpstart labor is responsible for more transports than we are ever told. Let baby take as much time as he/she needs to get ready for this momentous event. Whatever it means to mom....it really is more significant to the baby....let babies choose their own birthday!

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercarla hartley

A friend of mine is 11 weeks pregnant with her first, and she said she was terrified of what labor will be like. After a little bit of conversation, she asked for advice on what to expect, or what to ask for or not ask for. The biggest thing I could think of was "DO NOT let them give you drugs to induce or augment labor unless absolutely 100% medically necessary!" And we chatted about that for a little bit.
I absolutely HATE hearing about women who are induced for any reason other than absolute medical necessity. My friend was induced recently at 37w5d because the baby was measuring big and she has a "small birth canal". I couldn't do anything but cry for her and feel bad for her that her doctor, who she loved and trusted, would lie to her like that. And that she would believe it.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAudrey

I, too, am stunned at how many women are induced these days. It's becoming incredibly rare to NOT be induced! I see time and time again my pregnant Facebook friends or those with pregnant spouses, post "Going to the hospital to be induced today! Yay!" and I just go, WTF? I guess I am just still shocked at how distrusting we have become of the body's ability to birth.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJill

My sister in law was induced because they liked the number 23 and wanted their baby born on that day, and my brother couldn't be bothered with waiting the 2 weeks for the due date because that's when his finals were for college. SELFISH!!!!

The labor took 48 hours and she was eventually delivered c-section. They actually LIKED that idea because now they can just go in and "unzip" her whenever for their next children!!! Her Dr. even said that when she decided she was done having kids he would do a free tummy tuck! Makes me sick.

I had my 1st naturally, but my 2nd was a c-section because I "had" to be induced due to complications with a medical condition I have, after 24 hours and a very small baby (4lbs. 14oz.) the cord prolapsed...I wish we would have just monitored the baby longer (found out later that was an option!!!)

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTrish

Being on various expecting club message boards, I have come across a variety of "reasons" women are being induced. I have always heard the typical baby is too big scenario, but on my last expecting club, the "reasons" for induction were just absolutely INSANE.

One woman said that her doctor will induce her a day he is on call, so he will "let" her have a vaginal birth that way, because if she were to go into labor naturally and her doc wasn't there, they would "make" her have a c-section. One said Her OB told her they will induce her at 38 weeks, as they induce ALL of their patients, because "at 38 weeks the baby is ready, so why not kick them out into the real world" (those were the doctors words. Seriously)

And yes, women were posting about how they will ask their doctor for one, as early as 37 weeks. Obviously NOT well informed on inductions. It's madness out there.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermichele
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