What The Medical Professionals Won’t Tell You About Induction

I was reading an article recently written by a 38 week pregnant mother of two. She was writing about how she would be going to get a stretch and sweep the following day and had already booked in to have her induction at 40 + 1 “just in case.”

And her reasons? That it would be convenient for her to have the baby then because her parents were coming to stay that week.

Now if you have been here any length of time, you know that I don’t make it my business to judge the choices of another mother – we all have our own paths to follow. But I could not just let this go without sharing why I think this woman is making an uneducated, dangerous and frankly wrong choice about how to bring her baby into the world.

Before I get started, let me just clarify that this post is about unnecessary inductions, not inductions which are needed for valid medical reasons such as reduced movements, pre-eclampsia and other concerning issues. I understand that sometimes we as mothers have to make tough choices and compromises for the safety of our babies.

So back to the issue at hand. Inductions are now so common that we assume they are a normal part of the process. We ask each other “How long will they let you go?” and are all familiar with the fabled horror stories of what can happen to a baby if they stay “in there” too long. We are trained to believe that a baby should be here between 37 and 40 weeks and anything later than that is simply dangerous and unacceptable.

The truth is that unborn babies, just as they will after birth, all develop at different rates. Some will be ready earlier and others will come much later. Some babies will crawl at four months, others might be eight months.

Development is not done on the clock. And along with the baby’s readiness, we all too often forget the mother. Her body is designed to open and release this precious bundle into the world. As natural labour approaches her cervix is softening and dilating slowly, the baby is dropping lower and positioning himself for his journey. Everything is going exactly as it should on natures schedule. It is a special time to be cherished, not something to be rushed.

We are all too impatient. It is a consequence of the time we live in, we are used to instant gratification, we don’t want to wait, we want the baby to be born at a convenient time for us, and for some mothers, they can’t seem to see what the big deal is. What can be the harm in encouraging baby to be born earlier? If you, like the mother I read about, think this too, let me tell you what the big deal with inductions is.

Induction is the first step in the cycle of interventions. When you are induced you experience artificial contractions which can come on quickly and be far more painful than natural contractions. This can lead to women requesting pain relief, often in the form of an epidural. And when you have an epidural, though your pain is eased, your labour slows too. And so you may have to up the contractions artificially once again. It becomes an endless cycle which is tiring for the mother and the intensity of these artificial contractions can be extremely hard on the baby.

So guess what? The mother burns out. She has nothing left and can’t cope any more. The baby becomes distressed under the compressions of these crazy contractions and before you know it, you’re being whisked away for an emergency c section, which is also not the walk in the park it is made out to be these days. It is major surgery which has life long effects on your baby. Hardly the peaceful and gentle way to begin your journey as mother and child.

Is a c section guaranteed when you agree to be induced? No, but a more painful and longer labour is a pretty good bet at the very least. Induction brings a higher chance of uterine rupture which sadly means a higher chance of death for both mother and baby.

When you go into hospital to be induced you will be waiting around for a long time before you get seen and before anything happens. This can be very stressful and scary for a woman, left alone in a room with no idea how long she will be there. If you aren’t in active labour your partner may not be allowed to stay overnight. This means that before you even begin, you are already stressed, probably overtired and out of your comfort zone.

Once your contractions have started you will not be able to go home, even if your labour progresses slowly. You are trapped, out of control and likely being fitted with large elastic belts around your bump which monitor the baby. This means your movement is inhibited which can make easing the discomfort of contractions even harder. The following was taken from the NHS website:

One in every five births in the UK in 2004-5 were induced, according to NICE. Among these induced births, when labour was started using drugs:

  • less than two-thirds of these women gave birth without further intervention
  • about 15% had instrumental births (forceps, ventouse)
  • 22% had emergency caesarean sections

According to this article on births in the USA and the referenced study, “among more than 7,800 women giving birth for the first time, those whose labor was induced were twice as likely to have a C-section delivery as those who experienced spontaneous labor. ”

It is not as simple as it is made out to be. Is this really how you want to bring your baby into the world?

This is setting out on your parenting journey on the wrong foot. If there is one thing you need to master as a parent, it is patience. Pregnancy, done the natural way, prepares us for this. It teaches us the beauty of slowing down and accepting our child’s pace. If we can’t do it for this most important event in their lives, that of being born, when can we?

 

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8 thoughts on “What The Medical Professionals Won’t Tell You About Induction”

  1. I have to say,i agree with you 100%,I have been there myself,induction pain relief and Csection,it was horrific,my little girl just wasn t ready to come out, and of course after being induced i wasn t dilating at all because obviously my body wasn t ready, the pain was so awful I had to have epidural, I was in labour for about 38 hours. Anyway I ended up exhausted mentally and physically for a very long time.Sorry that s a long post!
    I agree that s induction is sometimes necessary of course but in my case I m sure i could have had a easier experience if the doctors had waited a few days.

  2. I wish I had known all that before letting them induce me. All I knew was that C-section was a largely possible outcome. I did not have one, nor did I have an epidural, but they put the pessary on the Sunday at 9am, contractions only started during the following night (!). On Monday morning I was 2 to 3 cm dilated, then they sent me to labour room where they broke my waters, but as I barely reached 4ish cm, at 4pm, so they put me on drips (really painful and exhausting, with all the belts on my bump). Luckily, at least, it then flew and my DD was born on Monday at 9.22pm. I had no idea that being forced to come out before she was ready would mean she would have such tough few nights. I’m glad I know better now thanks to people like you, and won’t make the same mistake again xx

  3. And I wonder… what are the (supposed-to-be) health professionals thinking about when they act this way? I mean, they know they’re not doing the right thing, do they?

  4. I agree with you 100%. Things like giving the mothers drugs to speed up their labor as ‘standard practice’ is wrong! If you know about them and go into it with the decision to use them, that’s your thing.
    My experience left me feeling like nurses treat every birth the same and are just ‘going through the motions,’ not to mention treating a first time mother like she doesn’t know anything and bristle at the first sign of me not wanting to be ‘just another birth that day.’ (Can you tell it wasn’t a positive experience?) And mothers that try to go through everything naturally without pain relief (which I got because the drugs brought on much more painful contractions like you said) are looked at like they’re crazy or a hippie. What is wrong with relying on nature to do what it intended? I was 22 when my husband and I had our son. I was young and healthy and had no complications from his end. The complications I had came from the nurses and doctor that delivered him, not treating my birth like it was different than another.

  5. Thank you for sharing this! What is really hard these days is to go overdue, refuse sweeping of the membranes, etc. The pressure on moms is enormous after 41 weeks. I found support from my chiropractor of all people who told me ‘babies come when babies come’. Ours finally arrived at 41+6 at home after we used a lot of natural remedies to help labor progress. The key for us was homeopathy.

  6. GREAT article!!!! I am currently 39 weeks + 2 days. This will be my 3rd baby and we are doing a water birth at home with the assistance of the same midwife I had for my previous pregnancies. I am cherishing these last few days/weeks that it is just baby and I. Soon I will have to share this sweet baby with the world. There is nothing like the slow transitioning of your body to prepare for baby’s journey. It can take hours, it can take weeks. Allowing each experience to be unique, empowering and magical is part of the miracle of this process.

    Thank you for sharing your enlightening words!! : )

  7. I went 5 days “over due” with my last pregnancy. I was seeing a midwife and planning a home birth. Despite her telling me that babies aren’t truly over due till 42 weeks as soon as I hit my “due date” there were talks of consulting with an ob/gyn, non stress tests, ultrasounds. If I went past 42weeks I would no longer be “allowed” to birth at home. The system has no time for “over due” babies. The whole thing was very stressful. Had I not gone into labour that morning I was expected to go for a non stress test at the hospital. It gave me a much better understanding of why many women are so willing to have inductions. There’s a lot of pressure to birth within the time they allot you. It doesn’t help that society seems to think that due dates are magical baby ejection dates. Nearly everyone I knew kept asking when my daughter was going to be born and as soon as her due date came everyone assumed I was going to be induced and kept asking me when.

  8. Great article!! I agree a 100%. I delivered all natural without an epidural 🙂 I appreciate you sharing the reality….my nurse who came in to introduce what an epidural is – said that his wife and him have 5 kids and his wife never took an epidural and would never let her take it. They in fact do home births because they do not like the drugs given by doctors and hospitals – all the more reason I did not want the epidural.

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