Labor induction involves using medications or other methods to bring on labor. The thought of being induced makes some ladies excited about no longer being pregnant. Other women prefer a more natural birth experience and are against being induced.
First, we will share some reasons why you might be induced, and then we’ll go through how labor induction is typically done.
Why Would I Need to Be Induced?
Diabetic women tend to have complicated pregnancies and grow larger babies. Doctors used to induce much earlier on diabetic patients, but they’re allowing these babies to head to term more recently.
Post your due date
Most hospitals will not induce a woman who’s past her due date until they are 41 weeks along. More and more medical studies are being released that show there are many benefits to allowing a baby to cook ’til they’re good and ready.
Low Amniotic fluid
Your doctor will conduct a test via ultrasound called an AFI (amniotic fluid index). They’re performing this test to measure the pockets of fluid in your uterus. If it’s low, your doctor may suggest inducing labor. That’s because if you don’t have enough amniotic fluid, there’s less cushioning for the umbilical cord. If it’s just a little low, your doctor may just watch you and have it re-measured.
Your healthcare professional will measure your baby’s size through an ultrasound. If your baby is too big, it can be a reason to end-up getting n a c-section. However, if they induce before your cervix is ready, you can also end-up a c-section. What a Catch-22 situation!
This one is even more important to keep an eye on than measuring big. If a baby measures small, it can mean they aren’t getting the nutrients they need. Your doctor will probably be looking at how your baby measures over time.
Something they’ll be watching for is a baby who was measuring normal and is now measuring small. This can usually be checked with an ultrasound, but your doctor would often find an indication for the ultrasound by measuring your belly at your appointments.
If you’re diagnosed with preeclampsia, your doctor may decide to induce your labor. Preeclampsia is when your blood pressure is high, you’re swollen, and a few other factors that are found through blood tests. You’ll probably deliver vaginally, though the earlier along you are in your pregnancy, the higher the chance you may need a C-section delivery instead because your cervix won’t quite be ready to dilate.
This might mean anything from catching a serious flu to an infection in the uterus. On the other hand, if it’s something really major and your life is in danger, your doctor might consider a c-section instead. Being seriously ill while you’re pregnant is very hard on your body. So, getting that baby out will improve everyone’s diagnosis.
Water broke, but nothing’s happening
Most women go into labor after their water breaks, but sometimes your uterus just could care less that it just lost all that fluid. Usually, the doctors will give you a few hours to start contracting on your own. If you don’t, they will strongly encourage you to start some Pitocin.
An “elective induction” just means it’s something you want to do; there’s no medical reason. Examples of why some women request an induction might be that their husband is set to leave town soon or if their Mom’s in town to help out. Elective inductions get last priority in the line of inductions for doctors to perform. That’s because if there’s no medical evidence that the induction should be done, they need to take care of women who have a reason first.
How Are Labor Inductions Performed?
Oxytocin is a synthetic version of what your body naturally produces to get you into labor. It’s also called Pitocin, but Oxytocin is generic. Your healthcare professional will put Oxytocin into your IV and start things out slowly. Every hospital has a policy to increase the amount carefully while watching your blood pressure and uterus. It’s typically increased until your cervix is opening or your contractions are two to three minutes apart.
Three common medications used to induce labor are Cytotec, Prepadil, and Cervidil. Your doctor may give it to you to ingest, crush it and ask you to hold it under your tongue or by your gums, or place it inside your vagina. These medications tend to “soften” the cervix and are usually given when the cervix is measuring less than two to three centimeters. If you’re past that point, your doctor may move on to a foley bulb induction.
Foley Bulb Induction
A Foley bulb induction is a procedure in which your doctor inserts a catheter into your cervix. Once inside, your doctor will use a saline solution to inflate the balloon.
This procedure puts pressure on your cervix and promotes dilation. The catheter will fall out once your cervix expands to three centimeters. Many doctors will follow this up with Oxytocin afterward, but sometimes women head into labor on their own.
Breaking your water
Your doctor may have you come in so that they can break your water. This works best on women who have already had a baby and are pretty well dilated. Once they break your water, there’s no going back. With the other methods we mention, you can just go home if the induction doesn’t work. So just keep in mind that if they break your water, you are in it for the long haul.
Strip your membranes
When your healthcare professional checks your cervix, they can “strip your membranes” by taking their finger between your bag of waters and your cervix. This action will release hormones to push you into labor. Stripping your membranes can get things going if you’re already going into labor soon. If not, it’s just a little pain with no gain. This procedure is uncomfortable but happens quickly and is a low-risk form of birth induction.
If all this information about labor induction has you freaked out, you’re not alone. But preparing yourself ahead of time by reading more information about labor helps you know what to expect. Check out these 10 simple ways to prepare for labor and delivery so you can start getting ready now.
Pregnancy can be hard. So pamper yourself now and let other people help you out if they offer. Soon enough, your baby will be screaming their lungs out in a car seat, and you will forget about all you went through to bring them into the world.
Stay tuned because next week, we’ll go into how to prepare yourself if you’re going to be induced!