Every mom-to-be hopes for a trouble-free pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. There are a number of reasons why a woman might need to have her labor induced.
“If you're coming into pregnancy with a known medical condition or complication, then that conversation can start as early as the beginning of prenatal care. Otherwise, as complications develop, generally in the second half or toward the end of pregnancy, we can start having conversations about when is going to be the safest time for the delivery of this baby,” states Dr. Theresa Myers, Certified OB/GYN at Moscow Pullman OB/GYN.
Induced Labor Considerations
Per Dr. Myers, induction is based on a calculation of the risks of pregnancy versus the risk of birth. Generally, the risk of birth is the risk to the baby—especially when considering an early induction. The risk of pregnancy is the risk that whatever is complicating the pregnancy could get worse and harm either mom or baby or both.
“All of that is an inexact science, obviously, but we're looking at things like bleeding, blood pressure problems, anything that tells us the baby is not doing well or not growing well, then it's possible that continuing to remain pregnant could be more dangerous than giving birth,” she explains.
In the last few years, “elective” induction became available after 39 weeks. One common reason for this is distance to the hospital. Moms and their partners who live many miles away from their preferred place of delivery can be better assured they won’t be caught off guard.
What Does the Induction Process Involve?
Dr. Myers and her colleagues use various methods to try and help prime the cervix for labor if a woman hasn't already started dilating slightly. “Generally, we use oxytocin or synthetic Pitocin to start contractions. We sometimes break their water. Other than that, it progresses pretty much like normal labor.”
From induction to birth can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Both instances are normal and safe. Recovery is almost always the same following an induced labor as a non-induced one.
Preparing Mentally and Emotionally
One challenge with induced labor that Dr. Myers wants to note is the mental and emotional component—particularly if it is a matter of pregnancy risk.
“Especially if we're attempting an early birth for everyone's safety, then we do have a higher risk of C-section. That's more with our early 30-week inductions. Our term inductions don't have that trouble. But, with any birth, labor is always a high-stress process for both mom and baby. It’s just a stressful event.”
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Dr. Myers understands some women and their partners might be hesitant about induction, but it is always done in the best interest of mom and baby’s health and well-being.
“I think induction is a thing people can find very intimidating. There's a lot of information on the internet that can be both very encouraging and very scary. There should always be a conversation with your provider about what the risks are for your specific pregnancy, your baby, and why it is a reasonable option.”