Your feet are swollen and your back is killing you. Sleeping upright is the only way that you can manage to fall asleep between the demands of your bladder and your baby's kicking spells. This is the life of a pregnant mother in her ninth month. The offer of a way out of this physically uncomfortable conundrum appears at first to be a blessing. This is the seduction of induction.
Let's face it the induction of labor has become common place, so common place, in fact, that the average length of pregnancy has dropped nearly a week in most recent studies. This medical eviction notice can have pretty severe down sides.
1. Your baby may be at risk for prematurity. Occasionally labor is induced before the baby is ready. New studies show us that babies who are even slightly premature have more problems at birth and beyond, even without a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
2. Labor can be more painful. Because of the faster lead up to strong contractions that come on at an unnatural rate and pattern, this medical form of labor may take your body by surprise. Some also say that this is due to your baby being in a less favorable position, since he or she didn't send the all clear signal for labor to begin.
3. Emotionally you may not be ready. In normal birth, labor begins on its own. You may have had ideas about how labor would begin for you. Perhaps you saw yourself making a mad dash to the hospital in the middle of the night or couldn't wait until your water broke. This can be difficult to reconcile with the actuality of induction.
4. There is the risk of harm to you or your baby. Sometimes when labor is induced, the baby does not tolerate the contractions well. This can lead to fetal distress. When certain medications are used to induce labor, there is an increase in the risk of damage to the uterus in the form of uterine rupture. These are not conditions that happen often but should be considered.
5. You are more likely to have interventions in labor and birth. This includes interventions to help monitor you and keep your baby safe while they use strong medications to force your cervix open, like continuous fetal monitoring. It can also include an increase in the number of forceps deliveries and the use of a vacuum extractor and the number of cesarean deliveries. It is also possible that the induction may not work and you are either sent home or surgically delivered via a cesarean because of the failure of the induction.
There are times when labor induction is medically indicated. When induction is truly needed it can be a blessing. However, there are still ways to reduce the side effects of induction and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. Be sure to discuss options for induction that are specific to you and your baby with your midwife or doctor.
A certified childbirth educator, doula and mother of seven, Robin Elise Weiss has attended over 500 births since 1989. Since 1996, her web site, the Pregnancy-Birth site at About.com has grown to be one of the largest and most well-read pregnancy sites on the Internet. Her latest book The About.com Guide to Having a Baby is now available at amazon.com or wherever childbirth books are sold. You can read her other works at: http://robineliseweiss.com and http://pregnancy.about.com