Induction or Nah?: Induction of Labor
If you have ever been pregnant, you might have heard your doctor mention an induction of labor. You might have even considered inducing to make sure your kid isn’t born a Gemini, no offense to the Geminis out there. But real talk, today we’re talking about induction of labor- to be or not to be?
Some of you may ask–why not let nature run its course? Well, medicine has improved outcomes from pregnancy complications that come with an aging placenta. Induction is generally used in cases where extending pregnancy may harm the mother or the baby. Several methods are used to achieve vaginal delivery by stimulating contractions and preparing your cervix for birth.
Interesting fact– Black women have a higher rate of cesarean deliveries and lower rates of induction of labor than white women. Studies have also found that even among those who were induced, black women had a higher rate of cesarean delivery. This is where bias comes in and can affect our care.
So, when should I consider induction? Although many things go into this decision, including how many weeks along you are, the status of you and baby, and how “ripe” the cervix is. There are some conditions that may prompt you and your doctor to consider inducing your labor during a specific range of weeks.
Chorioamnionitis, which is an infection of the amniotic fluid, preeclampsia/eclampsia, placental abruption, and gestational hypertension may all necessitate induction of labor to prevent any danger to birthing parent the baby.
If you and baby are healthy and you decided that you would like to deliver before going into labor spontaneously, that is called an elective induction. That will only be performed at or after 39 weeks of gestation, because at that point most baby’s lungs are developed and it is safe to deliver all babies. Other reasons to induce labor at 39 weeks include lower rates of preeclampsia in those who may be at risk and gestational hypertension.
If you are toward the end of 40 weeks pregnant, your doctor may consider inducing you, since studies have shown an increased risk of fetal mortality and meconium aspiration in pregnancies that extend past 41-42 weeks. There are other risks of the baby getting too big and causing prolonged labor, shoulder dystocia or other difficulties that lead to birth trauma.
Everything has its risks. Labor induction can risk overstimulation of the uterus (a.k.a. too many contractions that can affect the baby’s heart rate) which could lead to an emergency C-section. Another risk is Failure of induction, when a patient’s cervix does not dilate or soften enough. It could also lead to a C-section.
Basically, talk to your obstetrician about your pregnancy and ask if induction is indicated for you and your conditions. If you have no conditions affecting your pregnancy, and you and baby are healthy, keep calm and wait for labor. Regardless, it is a personal decision and you should feel empowered to ask for or decline induction of labor. It is all about benefits versus risks and finding what is acceptable for you and your family.