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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