As expectant mothers approach their due dates, labor induction may arise for various medical reasons or convenience.
Let’s explore the potential advantages and disadvantages of inducing labor to prevent medical complications and adverse effects on the birthing experience.
By understanding the inducing labor pros and cons, you can ensure a safe and satisfying childbirth journey.
Inducing labor is when doctors help start or speed up childbirth before it happens naturally.
They do this for reasons like the pregnancy lasting too long, the water breaking before 37 weeks pregnant, or if there are health issues for the mother or baby.
Sometimes, mothers need to induce labor if the baby is not expected to survive outside the womb.
Hospitals usually offer 39-week inductions onwards or earlier if there are other medical concerns.
Deciding to induce labor is an important choice, and the health care provider will talk to you about the induction pros and cons to help you make the right decision.
What Are The Inducing Labor Pros And Cons?
Labor induction relieves prolonged pregnancy discomforts and helps in certain medical conditions.
But inducing too early may lead to premature birth. It might also cause negative health outcomes for women and their neonatal health status.
Relief From Pregnancy Discomforts
Reduced anxiety is one of the benefits of inducing labor.
During pregnancy, women may experience various discomforts such as weight gain, back pain, varicose veins, and sleep problems.
Inducing labor and giving birth can end these discomforts, providing much-needed relief.
Meet The Baby Earlier
Many expectant mothers are excited and eager to meet their baby finally.
Labor induction allows them to plan the birth when their preferred doctor is available and on the most convenient date.
In other words, it will satisfy their emotional desire to welcome their child.
Address Precipitous Birth History
In cases where a woman had a very fast birth with her previous baby and lived far from the hospital, labor induction might be considered.
Inducing labor as an option can prevent the risk of giving birth en route to the hospital, ensuring a safer birthing process.
In certain medical conditions, labor induction becomes necessary to promote the safest outcome for both the mother and the fetal growth.
It resolves pregnancy-induced hypertension (Toxemia).
This health condition involves elevated blood pressure disorders and other symptoms that can result in blood loss to the baby through the placenta and umbilical cord.
Inducing labor may be the safest option when medications and bed rest don’t help control the condition.
In addition to Toxemia, labor induction also helps to resolve Macrosomia (Baby being “too big”).
Macrosomia is when the baby’s birth weight is above 8 lbs 13 oz. This can be linked to some risks of inducing labor, such as:
- Longer labor
- Higher rates of C-section birth
- Shoulder dystocia
- Maternal complication (Postpartum hemorrhage)
In some cases, a woman has poorly managed weeks of gestation or gestational diabetes.
Thus, they may consider inducing labor to manage the baby’s weight gain in the last weeks of pregnancy.
Is labor induction safe? Labor induction at term or near the due date can bring a major risk of premature birth.
Due date calculations may not always be precise, and earlier induction might force the baby to be born too soon.
Premature babies are more vulnerable to health issues like vision and hearing problems, difficulty with sucking, swallowing, and having a low birth weight.
In the last weeks of pregnancy, vital organs like the brain, lungs, and liver are still developing, and premature induction could interfere with this crucial process.
Increased Health Risks To Mother And Baby
Labor on mothers comes with serious health risks. The uterus contracting too often can decrease blood flow to the baby, putting the baby’s well-being at absolute risk during labor.
They include increased fetal heart rate, fetal distress, and risk of complications.
Induced labor also increases the chance of excessive bleeding after birth for first-time moms or even experienced mothers.
They are more likely to have a cesarean delivery, a major surgery with potential risks.
Routine inductions often translate to more pain medication use during labor and can bring a series of interventions like epidurals and narcotics.
These risks of potential complications should be carefully considered before deciding on medical induction to ensure the safest outcome for both the first-time mother and the baby.
Inaccurate Baby Size Predictions
Late ultrasounds used to estimate the baby’s size can be wrong. Some women might be told that their baby is too big, worrying about childbirth problems.
But, in truth, many of these babies are born with an average weight, not too big.
Inducing labor because of worries about the baby’s size can entail unnecessary interventions and risks, especially for healthy women with low-risk pregnancies.
Should Pregnant Women Induce Labor?
Yes. But only when the mom or baby’s health is in danger. Some reasons for inducing labor include:
- The pregnancy goes past its due date
- The mom has preeclampsia
- The baby is not growing properly
- The mom has certain health issues
However, if there is no negative medical indication and the pregnancy is going well, it’s usually better to let labor start on its own. Below are the reasons why:
When labor is encouraged using Pitocin, the contractions it creates are stronger, last longer, and are closer together than normal pregnancy contractions.
Thus, they can make the pain more intense. The consequence is a higher likelihood of needing pain medication during labor.
During labor induction, you will need an IV with fluids and Pitocin. Being connected to the IV pole can limit your ability to move freely during labor.
This can make it harder to find comfortable positions.
Also, using helpful tools like a vaginal birth tub or hydrotherapy is hard, which many women find beneficial during the vaginal delivery time.
When labor is induced, there is a set timeframe that doctors want the baby to be born within.
A cesarean birth may be done if the induction protocol doesn’t work well or your body isn’t ready for labor.
In spontaneous labor, you often have more optimal time to let things progress naturally and avoid needing a cesarean section.
Thus, first-time mothers should carefully consider the pros and cons of getting induced to ensure their and their babies safety.
What Happens During The Labor Process?
During labor, the body goes through different stages to give birth to the baby. Here’s what happens:
- Early labor: At the beginning, contractions start gently and irregularly. The cervix starts to open up and thin out.
- Active labor: As time passes, contractions become stronger, more regular, and closer together. The favorable cervix at term will keep opening wider.
- Transition: This is the most intense phase. The cervix finishes opening fully, and contractions are very strong and close. It can be overwhelming emotionally.
- Pushing stage: The urge to push comes when the favorable or unfavorable cervix is fully open. The baby’s head moves down the birth canal.
- Birth: The baby’s head and body come out with the help of the medical team. The umbilical cord is cut, and the baby takes its first breath. The mother will be offered hospital stays advice for further monitoring.
What Are Some Common Ways For Inducing Labor?
- Breaking the bag of water: The doctor uses a plastic hook to make a tiny hole in the bag of water around the baby. After a certain amount of amniotic fluid level releases, it can start contractions.
- Pitocin: This medicine is given through an IV to make contractions stronger and more regular.
- Prostaglandin gels: These hormones help soften the cervix and prepare it for the induction of labor. They can be put near the cervix.
- Misoprostol (Cytotec): This pill can be placed near the cervix to help start labor.
- Membrane sweep/ Membrane stripping: The doctor gently uses their finger to cause the rupture of membranes around the cervix. The rupture to delivery can encourage labor by releasing natural hormones.
How Long Does Labor Induction Last?
The length of labor induction and time to delivery can vary a lot from woman to woman. For some uncomplicated pregnancies, the process lasts for 24 hours.
But for others, it can take longer, lasting 2-3 days.
It may take time for the cervix to get ready for labor; doctors might use special gels, castor oil, or other methods of induction to help with this.
Inducing labor can be helpful and necessary when additional risk factors exist for the mom or baby. It can save lives and take care of medical problems.
But it’s necessary to understand the inducing labor pros and cons and the condition at delivery.
The good thing is that it can be lifesaving and fix health issues. But it can also cause stronger and artificial contractions, limit movement, and lead to more interventions.
Women should talk with their doctors before making this decision. It’s usually better to let labor start naturally for a smoother and more natural birth if not needed.