Induction of labor describes the stimulation of uterine contractions before labor begins naturally to achieve a vaginal delivery. There are many reasons for your health care provider to recommend induction of labor with the main reason being concerned for the mother’s or baby’s health. In the induction of labor, there are usually more benefits compared to risks. There are several factors that determine if the induction of labor is necessary. Your doctor will evaluate your health, the baby’s health, gestational age, weight, position, and the status of your cervix. Some of the reasons for the induction of labor include:
- Post-term pregnancy: Pregnancy is considered to be term at 37 weeks of gestation. Your due date is set at 40 weeks. Post-term pregnancy is considered to be 2 weeks past your due date. If labor has not started naturally, induction of labor might be necessary as the viability of the baby is affected.
- Premature rupture of membranes: In this situation, your water has broken but labor has not started. Induction of labor is necessary once a certain time has past as it increases the risk of infection.
- Chorioamnionitis: There is infection in the uterus and delivery might be inevitable.
- Fetal growth restriction: Your baby weighs less than 10% of the expected weight for the gestational age.
- Placental abruption: Part of the placenta has separated from the uterine wall.
Why Are Labor Induction Rates So High?
There are also reasons that leads to elective labor induction. The term “elective” describes performing the procedure on an individual who does not need it. It is usually done for women who live far away from medical assistance or have a history of delivering rapidly to ensure that they have medical assistance during delivery. Health care teams are very upfront in discussing the efficiency of scheduled inductions and state that women no longer have to worry about going into labor in the middle of the night and it can be easier for them to manage their staff schedules as well. To increase efficiency, induction rates have dramatically increased. Some mothers are excited to have their child, and many more are encouraged to have induced labor. To make an informed decision, it is important for you to know the worth of waiting for labor to begin on its own.
Risks And Disadvantages Of Labor Induction
Labor induction changes the course of labor and birth in many ways. It causes a chain of events:
- To induce labor, Pitocin is used to cause contractions of the uterus. However, the contractions get stronger much more quickly than the natural course of contractions leading to a harder to manage labor.
- It also causes the uterine muscle to unable to relax completely between contractions which stresses the uterus and baby. Continuous electric fetal monitoring is therefore required due to the stress on the baby.
- In an induced labor, endorphins are not released which means that it is very likely the woman may need an epidural which prolongs the first and second stage of labor. This increases the likelihood of needing instruments at birth.
- Without endorphins and oxytocin, both the mother and baby are less alert and therefore unable to interact after birth.
- Elective induction sometimes occurs in babies that are near term (not fully term). This means that they are less developed and mature increasing their risk for hypoglycemia, temperature instability, clinical jaundice, and respiratory distress. There is also difficulty feeding and higher rates of readmittance to the hospital.
Why You Should Avoid An Induced Labor
Besides the risks and disadvantages an induction brings, it may be worth it to wait for natural labor as there can be some variation in how long it takes for a baby to mature. Some babies mature at 37 weeks while some take a bit longer. The last few weeks of pregnancy can also be important for both the baby and mother as both bodies start preparing for delivery. It is also an opportunity for mothers to rest, think, and finish preparing for the arrival of the baby.
10 Natural Ways You Can Avoid Labor Induction
To avoid the need of labor induction, here are 10 ways that may naturally start labor. Remember NOT to try this before your due date and discuss with your doctor just to be safe!
This helps the release of the hormone oxytocin that causes contractions of the uterus. Avoid doing this until you have reached your due date.
Intercourse can help start contractions. Semen from your partner also contain prostaglandins that helps your cervix to soften (ripen and efface). If you are uncomfortable having sex at this time, you can try to achieve an orgasm as you will also release prostaglandins that help the ripening and effacement of the cervixpostpantrum.
Contrary to popular belief, physical activity is actually beneficial when you are near labor. Gravity moves the baby’s head lower into your pelvis and the pressure helps dilate the cervix.
There are some foods that naturally help induce labor. Pineapples contain the enzyme bromelain that helps ripen the cervix. Some people also believe spicy foods may help as well.
Raspberry Leaf Tea
This tea may help strengthen your uterus and help it to start contracting. It is available in most grocery stores.
Some licensed massage therapists provide labor induction massages that help start contractions. You will need to be patient as it foes not work immediately and may require several sessions for it to work.
Taking a warm bath helps you relax. Relaxation is key to start labor as stress can prevent it from starting.
This is something your doctor can do. It can be uncomfortable as they will reach into the cervix to check for effacement and dilation. If situation permits, your doctor will run his or her fingers to try to separate the amniotic sac from the uterine wall. The separation releases prostaglandins that help start the process of labor.
Acupuncture and Acupressure
Acupuncture is a natural method where a licensed and experienced practitioner places needles at specific points in your body. Acupressure works the same way, but no needles are used. Instead, fingers apply the pressure needed at specific points. These points are also used in labor induction massages. Some of the points that may help start contractions is located between thumb and forefinger (in the web), and the other above your ankle. Here is a more detailed read on using acupressure to induce labor and a video that may be more explanatory!
Herbs and Tinctures
Before you use any herbs or tinctures, make sure you consult your doctor. It is important to talk to a professional as it can be dangerous if not taken at the proper dose. Some of the herbs that may help induce labor are blue cohosh, black cohosh, motherwort, and false unicorn root.