Finding out you are pregnant is one of the most joyous and exciting moments of your life. You cannot wait to meet your brand new son or daughter in nine short months. However, before you get to meet your new baby, you will go through the amazing experience of childbirth. Labor and childbirth are the most commonly feared and misunderstood aspects of the entire childbearing process, particularly when it comes to the available medical interventions. It is common practice in obstetrics today to induce labor in pregnant women for any number of reasons. But before you get to the point of possible labor induction, get to know the facts surrounding induced labors and the possible consequences of your choice.
What Does It Mean To Induce Labor?
Inducing labor is a medical intervention in which obstetrics physicians will provide treatments that artificially stimulate your body to go into labor and begin having contractions. This is done in lieu of waiting for your body to go into labor naturally.
There are two types of labor inductions, those performed as a result of medical necessity and those performed electively for convenience of the mother. Elective labor induction has increased in popularity in recent years.
How Is Labor Induced?
Generally speaking, labor is induced using one of two types of medications. The most common of these options is administered intravenously (through an IV). The medication used is a form of oxytocin which is naturally made within the body.
Oxytocin is usually released by your body when you go into labor. It is the hormone that actually causes your uterus to contract. The dose to induce labor is very small but does require that you remain in bed and hooked to an IV.
The other medication commonly used is administered through a vaginal suppository. Known as prostaglandin, this medication is given in the evening and by morning labor should begin. The convenient aspect of using prostaglandin over oxytocin is that you can go home until your labor actually begins.
Labor can also be jumpstarted by artificially breaking your water (amniotic sac). This is often used along with oxytocin in labor induction to further progress your labor.
Why Induce Labor?
Aside from the convenience factor, labor is more often than not performed as a result of perceived medical necessity. If your baby is in distress, you are suffering from severe hypertension or gestational diabetes, a doctor may feel that it is in your best interest and in the best interest of your child to induce labor.
Additionally, if you have past your due date, doctors will often recommend inducing labor. While you and your baby may not appear to be in any type of medical distress, the longer you go past your due date, the more your obstetrics physician fears you will have complications or problems.
What Are The Risks Of Inducing Labor?
Labor induction has become the go-to medical intervention for pregnant women. Sometimes women feel that their doctors are pressuring or bullying them into inducing labor which can result in psychological and emotional distress for the mother. While this bullying tactic is certainly not the norm, if you feel your doctor is doing so, be sure you and your partner speak up. You can always ask for a second opinion or refuse treatment.
Other than psychological and emotional factors, artificially induced labor also results in an increased likelihood of Cesarean (C-section) surgery. This is because your contractions can become so strong and intense that it causes your baby distress (not to mention intense pain for you).
While this is not an inevitable result of labor induction, it can happen. Your contractions become stronger and more frequent quickly, but your cervix may not dilate as rapidly making vaginal birth impossible.
When it comes to your childbirth experience, be sure you know all of the facts before you agree to medical interventions. In the case of inducing labor, knowing what you are getting yourself into is key. While there are definite risks to inducing labor, when it is medically necessary, the benefits far outweigh the cost. Remember to always keep your health and that of your unborn child in mind and you will always make the right decision regarding childbirth and possible medical interventions. Talk to reputable obstetricians at places like Triad OB-GYN PC if you have any questions.