Your due date has come and gone. You’re starting to get worried that the baby will be in trouble, that something is wrong or just that your back can’t take anymore strain!
Sometimes you may be offered a medical induction . This is a basic guide for what to expect if your doctor offers you one.
Reasons for a Medical Induction
There are two common reasons for a doctor to perform a medical induction:
- The baby or mother has a medical complication – if your medical care provider believes the baby has a complication such as IUGR, is in distress, the mother has problems such as preeclampsia or you have had a high risk pregnancy, the doctor may choose to induce you.
- The baby is postdate – if you’ve gone past your due date, the doctor will sometimes begin preparation for a medical induction. Postdate means you are past your EDD (estimated due date – 40 weeks) while overdue means you are past 42 weeks (although these definitions vary by country and hospital).
A Note On Medical Permission
Every woman has a different average gestation time. Baby is considered to be at term between 37 and 42 weeks gestation, however first time pregnancies go for an average of 41 weeks and 1 day. Some women always go into labour early, while others have a normal gestations of up to 43 weeks.
Medical staff need your permission to perform any type of procedure on you. This can be from touching your belly through to an internal examination, induction or a cesarean. If they touch you or do something that you didn’t give them permission to do, it is classed as assault.
Once you begin on the path of induction, you cannot stop. This means that if a certain induction method does not work, you will need to continue on to a more forceful induction method. Inductions DO have risks, so make sure that the risks of the baby staying in, outweigh the risks of the baby being forced to come out before it’s meant to.
Situations that DO NOT warrant a medical induction:
- A big baby. Ultrasounds are very inaccurate in the last trimester and without a medical reason such as GD, a suspected large baby is not a reason to induce. [More information]
- A small pelvis. It’s very rare for a woman to truly have a pelvis too small to birth a baby. This was much more common before proper nutrition, for instance in women who had rickets. [More information]
- A long gestation. As long as mother and baby are healthy, there is no reason to induce before 42-43 weeks. Studies indicate that risks do not greatly increase before this gestational age. As inductions have a range of risks too, it’s generally safer to continue the pregnancy rather than induce if there is no medical reason the baby needs to come out. This is examined more in the FAQ at the bottom of the page, relating to risks of going overdue.
- A VBAC. Some doctors may tell a woman that she needs to go into labor before her due date if she wants to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after csection). However, as above, there is no reason a woman can’t go for a longer gestation before attempting a VBAC. [More information]
How will Labor Be Medically Induced?
There are several ways to induce labour medically. They will use varying degrees of induction. If the first, less invasive type doesn’t work, they will continue onto the next type. Be aware however, doctors may not use all the forms of induction listed, depending on medical history and which doctor you are receiving care from.1 | 2 | 3