I don't know about you, but I was ready to serve my babies eviction notices weeks before their due dates. I spent hours Googling "natural" ways to induce labor, completely tired of the whole being pregnant thing. Of course, annoyance and discomfort aren't the only reasons for induction, natural or otherwise. In fact, there are more than few situations that require medical intervention to get labor going. Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths about getting induced that have made induction, and the women who choose and/or receive it, the subject of endless judgment and shame. Well, enough is enough.
No matter what you've heard or read, the majority of pregnant women aren't getting induced "just because they're sick of being pregnant." According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), "labor should be induced only when it is more risky for the baby to remain inside the mother’s uterus than to be born." Preeclampsia, heart disease, gestational diabetes, or bleeding are just a few medical reasons an induction may be necessary, and all are out of a pregnant woman's control. So all that judgment and shame? Yeah, unnecessary and unfair.
In 2003, Jane E. Brody of The New York Times reported that induction rates were on the rise, which, perhaps, gave fuel to the anti-induction fire. The report highlighted the increase number in cesarean deliveries, too, as a direct result of higher numbers of inductions. Dr. William F. Rayburn, an expert in maternal and fetal medicine at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, told The New York Times, "Induction results in Caesarean deliveries when the cervix fails to dilate or dilates very slowly or stops before full dilation, or when the woman becomes too fatigued to push the baby out or when the resulting contractions are too strong for the baby to tolerate them well. Caesareans after inductions are particularly common in first pregnancies." Likewise, a study in The Journal of Perinatal Education found that babies born "near-term" via induction are at an "increased risk for temperature instability, hypoglycemia, respiratory distress, apnea and bradycardia, and clinical jaundice." These aforementioned reports and studies have lead many women to be afraid of, and actively try to avoid, inductions.
But again, there are plenty of situations in which an induction is medically necessary. So it's important expectant mothers know the risks, trust their team of health care providers, and educate themselves regarding their own situations so they can make the best, most informed decisions for their own unique circumstances. That, of course, includes de-bunking myths about getting induced. Myths like, well, the following:
Myth: Inductions Are The Safest Way To Deliver
Fact: According to The Mayo Clinic, if you've had previous cesareans, "major uterine surgery, your placenta is blocking your cervix (placenta previa), or your baby is lying buttocks first (breech) or sideways (transverse lie) in your uterus," an induction may not even be an option. There are risks with a natural delivery, of course, but with a medically coaxed delivery you could experience uterine rupture, infection, bleeding after delivery, or low heart rate. which equates to lower baby's oxygen and heart rate levels.
Johnson Memorial Health says the safest way to deliver a baby is vaginally, if at all possible.
Myth: Contractions Will Be Sporadic
Fact: Contractions with an induction may start out sporadic, but as things progress they'll likely become more regular (and more painful). Dr. John Gianopoulos, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Loyola University Health System, tells Parenting that an induction "initiates strong contractions much sooner, while natural labor begins over a period of days and the cervix tends to be soft and open when active labor begins." Gianopoulos goes on to add that the contractions will likely be closer together, while "natural" contractions might vary in intensity and length.
Myth: The Risks Are Minimal
Fact: The baby's lungs are the last organ to develop. According to Fit Pregnancy, if you're scheduled for an induction before the lungs have reached maturity (around 39 weeks), your baby may need to spend some time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) while their lungs mature. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agrees, saying an elective induction shouldn't occur before 39 weeks gestation.
Myth: You Deliver Faster Than With Natural Labor
Fact: While the length of labor varies with every woman and every pregnancy, an induced labor — which is initiated via synthetic hormones to stimulate uterine contractions — can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The March of Dimes says it may take longer for first-time moms, or those who are less than 37 weeks pregnant. There's no way to know how your body will respond to the medicines used until you're in the throes of induction.
Myth: Subsequent Babies Are Born Quicker If Your First Was Born Via Induction
Fact: The length of your labor all depends on how "ripe" your cervix is, how much your contractions have progressed, how far the baby has moved through the birth canal, whether or not your water has broken, and a list of other things all doctors look for when attempting to "guess" when you'll be holding your baby in your arms. If, according to South Shore Medical Center, your cervix is long, hard, and closed, it could be multiple days before your labor and delivery ends. And although a long labor is more common with first-time mothers, it's not guaranteed to be any faster with subsequent pregnancy inductions.
Myth: It Won't Hurt As Much
Fact: Because Pitocin can bring on strong waves of contractions, there's fewer breaks between them. And while you can experience painful, quick contractions during a "natural" labor, too, a medical induction tends to overemphasize the already painful parts of labor and delivery. That's why, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families, inductions usually lead to epidurals.
Myth: You Can Trigger Labor On Your Own
Fact: There are some interesting old wive's tales about how to induce a labor naturally, though it remains to be seen how effective or safe any of these methods actually are. Whether it's a bumpy car ride, dancing, walking, sex, castor oil, or spicy foods, there's no scientific evidence to prove any of these aforementioned methods work, and some of them (I'm talking to you, castor oil), may have unpleasant side effects, such as cramping and diarrhea.
According to Parents, nipple stimulation can jumpstart labor, though. It may also stress your baby out, which isn't a good thing, so you should only try this one at home after you've talked to your doctor.
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