The term ‘inducing labor’ may not be new to expectant moms. It is the artificial start of the birth process through medical interventions or other methods. The number of women who have labor induced has skyrocketed in recent years. When some of them were elective induction, some others were done because of medical emergencies. However, women who choose induction for purpose of convenience is on the rise. Before you say yes to labor induction, know everything you need to know about the entire process.
Why Is It Done?
Even though elective induction is increasing, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)’s recommendation is to induce only when it is riskier for the baby to remain inside the mother’s uterus than to be born. Here are the medical reasons for inducing labor:
Your health condition: If you have a health condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or obstetric cholestasis that risks your health, doctors may go ahead with inducing labor. Even bleeding during pregnancy can be a reason for induction.
Your baby is in danger: Sometimes your baby may not get enough nutrients
You are overdue: A pregnant woman is expected to go into labor naturally by 42 weeks. If that does not happen induction will be offered. Otherwise, there is a risk of stillbirth.
Your water breaks: The risk of infection to you and your baby is high in case your water breaks more than 24 hours before delivery. If you water breaks before 34 weeks, you may not be induced. It is an option only if there are factors dangerous for the health of your baby. However, your medical team will consider inducing labor if the water breaks between 34 and 37 weeks.
How Is It Done?
“Membrane sweep”, also known as a “cervical sweep” is the first step of inducing labor. Your healthcare provider sweeps the finger around your cervix, separating the membranes of the amniotic sac surrounding your baby from your cervix. This action is supposed to release hormones that are capable of inducing labor. If induction does not happen with membrane sweep, your doctor will proceed
Medications: Labor can be induced by inserting a tablet or gel into the vagina. Do not expect an immediate reaction. It takes time for the labor to kick start. Contact your doctor if you feel contractions. If there are no contractions even after six hours, your doctor may offer you another tablet or gel. In some cases, a hormone drip will be used.
Artificial rupture of the membranes (AROM): Your doctor may rupture the amniotic membrane artificially. With that, production of prostaglandin increases, causing contractions.
Nipple Stimulation: This is a natural form of labor induction. This will lead to the production of the hormone oxytocin, causing contractions. It can be done with an electric breastfeeding pump.
Once induced, labor proceeds just like any other vaginal birth. You will be able to push at your own pace. There will not be any restriction in using pain relief options.
Risks Associated With Labor Induction
In rare cases, induction may go wrong. There are chances for the uterus to overstimulate, which may result in frequent, abnormal contractions. These contractions will be harmful to your baby as
Even though labor induction leads to vaginal birth, it may not be successful all the time. In such cases, you will need to try another induction. If that also does not work, you may be offered a c-section. For first time mothers who had a failed attempt at induction, the chance for a cesarean delivery is very high.