Naturally, as the mother’s body gets ready for delivery, oxytocin is released into the blood stream. The hormone initiates the process of labor—the contractions begin and the cervix becomes thin and dilated.
Inducing labor involves triggering the process of birth artificially. However, induction is only performed in the case of medical conditions, which include preeclampsia, diabetes, or if the baby is well past the due date or there are any health risks to the mother and the baby. For instance, inducing labor could be a right choice if the mother is in her 41st week of pregnancy.
Inducing a labor because you are too tired to carry the pregnancy or for the convenience of doctor isn’t healthy rather could be detrimental. Also, it doesn’t ensure that the baby will be born naturally—many times, an induced labor ends up in a C-section.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in its principles associated with induced labor clearly mentions that ‘Induction of labor should be performed only when there is a clear medical indication for it and the expected benefits outweigh its potential harms.’
According to the WHO, more and more births are carried out by inducing labor—25% of delivery in developed countries involve induced labor. The case is similar in some developing countries as well.1
For the birth to take place naturally, the baby should be ready to come out into the world with their body systems completely developed and functional. Naturally, labor is triggered only when the right amount of hormones are released into the mother’s bloodstream and her body is prepared for birth. However, many couples selectively go for induced labor. The broad reasons that as many as 50% of induced births are by choice other than medical reasons are:
- Mother’s fear of labor pain and natural birth.
- A convenience of birth schedule for the mother or doctor.
- Fear of having a big baby or macrosomia.
- Dependence on technology for due dates.
Many moms mentioned that they didn’t go into labor even after their due date. Other reasons that women are told is that the baby is not engaging or moving down from the uterus into the birth canal, or the baby is too big.
One important thing to remember is that every pregnancy is different and the term of the completion of gestation can vary between 37 weeks to 42 weeks. Moreover, the due dates aren’t when you should actually give birth to your baby, but an estimated date of delivery—in most cases, it is never the same as the date of delivery and cannot be predicted accurately by any means.
Intervention in the process of birth doesn’t make it a natural event. By suggesting an induction, your obstetrician could be helping you if there are pregnancy related complications that pose health risks for you and your baby. However, when you are choosing for induced labor, it becomes important to know the risks and the benefits involved in the process.
How Is Labor Induced At Hospitals
- At the hospital, the mother usually receives a dosage of the hormone prostaglandin to make the cervix soft. To trigger the contraction, another hormone called Pitocin is injected into the veins—it acts as oxytocin, the natural inducer of labor present inside the mother’s body.
- Another method of inducing labor is by rupturing the amniotic sac. A sterile plastic hook is used like a pin by the doctor to puncture the sac and let the liquid out. The amniotic fluid contains prostaglandins, which also promotes contractions. However, if the labor doesn’t start after that, your baby has the risk of catching an infection in the absence of the protective fluid.
Even after inducing labor, how the labor and birth will follow depends on the response of the mother’s body and her baby. Experts say that one could either have a quick labor and delivery or a prolonged one.
There are ways to induce labor without medical intervention when you are past your due date. Find out more on how to induce labor naturally.
|↑1||World Health Organization. WHO recommendations for induction of labour. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2011.|