Inductions are quite common in many western hospitals, often for non medical reasons. Many women aren’t made aware of all the risks associated with induction so they don’t have a chance to make an informed decision. Sometimes they’re aware of the risks but believe that an induction is medically necessary. No matter the reason for inductions, they happen – so this guide is for women who are booked in for an induction and want to decrease the risks, pain and complications which often come with them.
Two major risks of induction:
- Stalled Labor – Labor won’t progress any further or baby appears to be stuck.
- Fetal Distress – Drugs such as pitocin can increase the risks of distress.
1. Make Sure You Need an Induction
Although many women may believe they need an induction, in some cases they may not. Some common reasons which DON’T always require an induction include:
- 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.
- 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]
2. Get Things Started on Your Own
If you know ahead of time that you’ll be having an induction, you can get things started on your own. Some of the best ways to start cervical changes at the end of pregnancy include:
- Dates – One study showed that eating raw date fruit at the end of pregnancy has a positive effect on the cervix and is sometimes associated with faster and easier labors.
- Evening Primrose Oil Capsules – EPO contains gamma linolenic acid (GLC) which converts linolenic acid into prostaglandins, which can help ripen the cervix. However EPO has a range of risks, so read this first.
- Sex – Good sex releases oxytocin which can help with cervical ripening and preparing the uterus for birth, along with the small amount of prostaglandins which are present in semen.
- Stretch and Sweep – Although still an induction method with its own risks, it can be done without progressing onto further induction methods immediately. This means that it can be a good method to get things started without going the full induction route.
3. Find Out Your Bishop’s Score
The Bishop’s Score is essentially a calculation of how successful an induction will be. The score is based on baby’s station and the firmness, effacement, dilation, consistency and position.1 | 2 | 3