Unbiased Myth Busting: Inductions
You're expecting a baby soon and the holidays are looming... Your provider has mentioned an induction as an option, but the parenting boards are filled with articles and memes listing all the (real and rumored) reasons NOT to have your labor induced.
So CAN you schedule your birth to fit your busy schedule? SHOULD you?
There are a lot of variables that will depend on your individual pregnancy, so this is definitely a decision that should be made with your care provider. To help you to go into those conversations with knowledge and confidence, we've busted some of the top myths about induction.
Myth: If I have an elective induction, my baby will be born too early and have health problems.
Truth: If you and your provider are sure of your dates (meaning your estimated due date is based on solid evidence such as an early dating ultrasound or definite conception date), and you are induced at 39 weeks or later, it is unlikely for your baby to suffer health complications due to an induction. In fact, the latest research indicates the opposite. It is true that your baby is doing important growing and developing in the last weeks of pregnancy, though, so if your estimated due date is a rougher estimate, you'll want to keep that in mind when considering an elective (not needed for medical reasons) induction.
Myth: My baby needs to choose their own birthday
Truth: If this is important to you, then you'll definitely want to factor it into your decision. Again though, if you're sure of your dates, current research doesn't indicate increased risk associated with you and your provider choosing a safe (and convenient) birthday for your baby.
Myth: If I get induced, I can't have a natural birth
Truth: We're big believers that a baby coming into the world through the body that grew it is a natural birth. If you're hoping to avoid medications, though, there are some things you'll want to know. It is true that most inductions involve some amount of medication. In some cases, some of the methods used to induce or augment (speed up) labor can make contractions more intense sooner than they otherwise would be. This can sometimes make labor more difficult to cope with than an non-augmented labor. That doesn't mean you must have an epidural simply because you're induced, though. There are a plethora of options for pain management, both medicinal and "natural" (think breathing, positions, and physical support from your birth team). Your doula can help you identify which options are the best fit for you.
Myth: Getting induced when there's not an urgent medical need is selfish
Truth: You've been pregnant for 9ish months and you're preparing to give birth and then immediately begin spending most [all] of your time tending to the needs of a tiny helpless human. Selfish does not have a place in this conversation. There are a lot of reasons why someone may choose to schedule an elective induction including (but not limited to): Wanting to birth with a specific provider, needing someone to be available to care for older children during labor*, wanting specific support people to be at the birth**, not wanting their child to have to share a birthday with a holiday, or simply not wanting to give birth at a time that will cause extra stress and anxiety to the person giving birth. Not one of these reasons is "selfish." Finally, as a parent, your mental and emotional health is of the utmost importance to your baby. Doing what's best for you and your family is not selfish.
*Sibling Doulas do that - contact us to learn more!
**Doulas of Des Moines doulas are on call 24/7 - including holidays. We'll be there for our clients no matter when babies arrives or who decides on the birthdays. :)
Myth: My provider will try to bully me into an induction so they don't have to work on a holiday.
Truth: Most providers work on a rotating schedule. If they're on-call on a holiday, they're prepared to work on that holiday. Chances are, if your provider is offering an elective induction, they're trying to do you a favor. They may want you to be able to have a provider you know and trust, and they know that many of the doctors in their practice are going to be off-call over the holiday. Or they may know the hospital is likely to be more short-staffed than usual. Or they may just figure that not giving birth on a holiday will be more convenient for you and your family. Moral of the story - if you want to know why your doctor is offering an induction, ask them!
Myth: I'll end up having a cesarean section if I'm induced.
Truth: Remember that research we mentioned earlier? It indicated no increased incidence of cesareans with routine induction at 39 weeks or later. Since you're an individual and not a statistic, though... One way your provider can assess the likelihood of an induction being successful is your Bishop Score, which assesses the condition of your cervix and how "ready" it is for labor to begin. Another thing to consider is what your plan will be if your induction fails. Depending on the method of induction (and other factors), you may be able to simply go home and wait for labor to start on its own if your induction fails. There are a number of reasons why this may not be an option, though, so it's a good idea to discuss this with your provider ahead of time.
Myth: Inductions are [always] medically UNnecessary
Truth: Inductions save lives. There are countless reasons why a baby may need to be born asap and, when those circumstances arise, inductions are absolutely medically indicated and necessary.
Myth: Inductions are 100% safe
Truth: Induction methods do come with some risks (so does waiting for labor to start on its own). It's important to discuss the risks and benefits of any procedure you're considering with your provider to make the choice that's best for you and your family.