To Induce Labor or To Wait it Out?Lisanne Wellness Center
When you’re pregnant, you have a lot of decisions to make. How will you and your partner choose to raise your child? What will you name him or her? Will they go to public or private school, or will they be homeschooled?
But before you can make any of these decisions, you have to decide how and when you will welcome your bundle of joy. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s not uncommon to choose to induce labor (stimulate uterine contractions before labor begins naturally). In the US, between 20 and 40 percent of labors are induced. This number, along with the number of C-sections, has doubled in the last decade.
It makes sense that more women and couples are choosing to induce. After all, the ability to plan your labor can make the whole process much easier and less stressful. But is it safe? And under what circumstance should you consider inducing pregnancy?
Why Consider Inducing?
People choose to induce labor for many reasons. You may consider inducing labor if:
- You need to plan your time away from work
- You want to allow out of town family to be present at the birth
- You need to manage health insurance coverage and costs
Sometimes, you won’t have a choice about inducing labor. Your doctor may choose to induce labor and start contractions if:
- Your pregnancy has lasted more than 40 weeks
- Your baby has stopped growing as expected
- You have an infection
- You have diabetes
- Your water has broken but labor hasn’t started
Is it Safe?
Your doctor is the best judge to tell you if inducing of labor is safe for you and your pregnancy. In general, inducing labor is safe as long as it is done properly by a doctor or midwife (and as long as it’s done at the right time).
You SHOULD NOT be induced if you have been pregnant for 39 weeks or less, unless there is a medical necessity to induce labor for the baby’s or mother’s safety. It’s important to note that, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, expecting a very large baby does not count as a medical reason to induce labor early.
Know the Risks
Inducing labor isn’t something you should do without considering the consequences. It should be taken seriously and only done if your baby is ready to be born and your body is ready to give birth. Some of the potential risks include:
- Failed induction: If you are pregnant with your first child, there is a 75% chance that induction will lead to a successful vaginal pregnancy. If you are among the 25% who do not respond to induction, you’ll need a C-section. For this reason, if you choose to induce labor, you should do so at a hospital.
- Low Heart Rate: Some medications that your doctor will use to induce labor can cause excessive contractions. This can diminish your oxygen supply (and your baby’s supply), leading to lower heart rates and potential complications.
- Infection: There is a small risk of infection during some forms of induction (like rupturing your membranes).
- Uterine Rupture: Though rare, uterine rupture is a serious potential risk of inducing labor, which is one reason that you should only induce when medically necessary. If your uterus ruptures, you’ll need an emergency C-section to prevent life-threatening complications.
How to Naturally Induce Labor from Home:
Acupuncture: Technically, you can’t do this from home, but you can do it outside of your doctor’s office. By stimulating the feet, hands and back, an acupuncturist can stimulate the reproductive system and encourage your body to enter labor.
Nipple Stimulation: Anecdotal evidence shows that nipple stimulation is one of the most effective ways to induce labor from home. This is an at-home technique and will usually not be performed by a doctor.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: Red raspberry leaf tea strengthens the uterus and pelvic wall during pregnancy. When you’re ready to induce labor, you can increase your daily dose to kick start contractions. The linolenic acid stimulates the production of natural prostaglandin, which can help the cervix to soften and thin. And since it strengthens the uterus, drinking this tea throughout your pregnancy (in moderation) can make labor easier.
Walking: Walking helps widen a woman’s hips and helps gravity take over. Also, consistently walking during your final trimester allows your baby’s head to put natural pressure on your cervix, which releases oxytocin and helps open and soften the cervix.
What If I Miss My Due Date?
Has your due date come and gone? You may be wondering if you can induce, or if you even have a choice about it anymore. Before you panic, take a few deep breaths. Only 5% of babies are born on their actual due date. Babies are considered “Full Term” if they are born between 39 weeks 0 days and 40 weeks 6 days. So being a few days late is nothing to worry about.
If you are getting much beyond 6 days overdue, you can talk to your doctor about inducing pregnancy. Most doctors will choose to monitor your baby after 41 weeks. At 42 weeks, most doctors will choose to induce pregnancy, since after 42 weeks, the risk of complications increases significantly.
Want to learn more about inducing labor and learn if you’re a good candidate? Contact Lisanne Wellness Center today at 713-461-WELL.