Guest post written by Samantha Leininger, a birth doula serving the greater Savannah area. We all know that expecting families are making constant decisions in the childbearing year. Who do I allow in the birth room? Which car seat is the safest? Do I have a minimalist or boho nursery theme? Becoming a parent can be nothing short of overwhelming. One looming question that swirls in the air, after listening to your friend’s birth story, and in your childbirth class is, “What will my birth be like?” In this blog we will address one common decision that a childbearing person may be confronted with: Inductions. We have provided 7 things you need to know about inductions to make an informed, evidence-based decision for your birth. 1. So, what is an induction? An induction is the process of stimulating uterine contractions before labor begins on its own. Induction, or inducing labor, increases the levels of Oxytocin, the essential “love” hormone in the start and progression labor. 2. How does it work? There are many methods that can be used to induce labor. Unmedicated methods include nipple stimulation, sex, raspberry leaf tea, or eating dates; these target various aspects of the uterus and cervix. You can find a cheat sheet from Mama Natural on natural labor induction methods. In the hospital setting, the administering of synthetic oxytocin, like the drug Pitocin, through an IV will produce increasingly regular and intense contractions. We will focus on medicated inductions for what else you need to know. 3. Most labor inductions are elective, or chosen. Here are examples of elective or medically unnecessary inductions: - Close to or past your “due date” - Baby is growing ahead of “schedule” - Your provider will be out of town/vacation - Convenience and comfort According to the guidelines of American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), an induction may be recommended when mother or baby is at risk. Medically necessary inductions may be recommended if: - you are pregnant at 42 weeks - have preeclampsia - or a condition where baby would be safer outside the uterus The benefits of a true medically necessary induction outweigh the risks when it is for the survival of mother and baby. Outside of necessity, it is up to you to determine if elective reasons outweigh the realities and risks listed below.
4. Expect continuous monitoring and limited movement. Because of the unpredictable risks of medicated inductions, continuous electronic fetal monitoring is required by your provider. The belts and cords limit where you can move, how you can move, and may be a distraction during contractions. A doula would be a great asset to assist in position changes and encouragement through an induction. 5. What are the risks? Inductions may cause fetal distress, infection of mother and baby, and too strong of contractions. A longer labor experience is also associated with an induction, although not always. Lastly, inductions are not guaranteed to work which may lead to a cesarean section or belly birth. A cesarean is a surgical procedure by means of cutting through the belly and uterus. 6. You can wait. The “due date” and baby measurements are reflections of estimation. You do not have to fear going past your due date. You do not have to fear birthing a “big” baby. You do not have to fear your body or baby missing the queue! If you have concerns that an induction is scheduled for any other reason than an imminent risk of mother or baby, ask your provider more questions, take time to process the information, and consult with another provider or birth professional. Read more about the research behind due dates here (https://evidencebasedbirth.com/evidence-on-inducing-labor-for-going-past-your-due-date/) 7. A healthy and supportive birth team makes for an informed and satisfactory birth! Between finding a supportive provider, taking local childbirth education classes, hiring a doula, and your birth partner, the statistics point toward a satisfactory, smooth, and shorter birth! Whether you have a medically necessary induction, elective induction, or labor starts naturally, you can leave this blog with a comprehensive take on inductions and make an informed decision.