What is Labor Induction?
You are two weeks past your due date and you’re ready to welcome your child in to the world, but what can you do? Labor induction is a procedure used to stimulate uterine contractions during pregnancy before natural labor begins on its own. Once labor induction begins you’ll be headed towards delivery, giving birth to your baby. A doctor might even recommend labor induction for various other reasons, mainly when there is a concern for the mother’s health or the baby’s health.
There are some risks, including infection and the need for a C-Section. However, sometimes the benefits of labor induction outweigh the risks. If you are currently pregnant, understanding why and how labor induction is done can help you prepare.
Why Labor Induction is Done
To determine if labor induction is necessary, your doctor will evaluate several factors, including your health, your baby’s health, the baby’s gestational age and size, the baby’s position in the uterus, and the status of your cervix. It may be recommended if you are approaching two weeks beyond your due date, and labor has not begun naturally or your water has broken, but you’re not having any contractions at all.
Other reasons labor induction is recommended is if there is an infection in your uterus, your placenta has begun to deteriorate, or you have a medical condition that might put you and the baby at risk, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
Sometimes labor induction can be a practical matter. If you live far from the hospital or you have a history of speedy deliveries, a scheduled induction might help you avoid an unattended delivery. If this happens, your doctor will confirm that your baby’s gestational age is at least 39 weeks or older before induction to reduce the risk of health problems for your baby.
Some women will request the procedure for convenience before it’s necessary, but that’s usually not recommended. Unnecessary labor induction can pose unnecessary risks, such as a premature birth that can cause the baby to have difficulty breathing or other various risks. In this case, trust that your doctor will make the best decision for you.
What to Expect from Labor Induction
There are various ways to induce labor. During the procedure, depending on the circumstances, your doctor might strip or sweep the amniotic membranes, ripen your cervix with mechanical dilators or synthetic prostaglandins, break your water by making a small opening in the amniotic sac with a thin plastic hook, or use intravenous medication, such as a synthetic version of oxytocin, to cause the uterine to contract. Also keep in mind that your doctor may use a combination of these methods to induce labor.
How long it takes for the labor to start depends on how your body responds to the various techniques used. If your cervix needs time to dilate, it could possibly take two days before the actual labor begins. If you just need a little extra push, you could be giving birth to your baby in a matter of hours.
A good thing to be aware of is that contractions might become stronger and more painful earlier in induced labor than they would during natural labor. If breathing techniques don’t work, your doctor may give you an epidural or offer other pain relieving options.
In most cases, labor induction will lead to a successful vaginal birth. However, if labor induction does not lead to a successful delivery, a C-Section might be required. If this is the case, don’t worry; you will receive special care during recovery that will monitor you and the baby’s health.
If you have any questions about labor induction, please don’t hesitate to contact Women’s First Health Care. We would be more than happy to help you during your pregnancy!