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Postpartum - After Delivery

Birth Induction

There are several reasons doctors and pregnant women have to go through birth induction. The doctor must induce labor for a few different reasons, and birth induction is becoming a regularly scheduled procedure for many pregnant women about to give birth.

Birth induction, also known as labor induction, is a medical procedure that is scheduled for pregnant women about to deliver and is used to stimulate uterine contractions during pregnancy before labor begins spontaneously. There are a variety of reasons why a doctor might recommend birth induction, and while there are some risks involved in the procedure, the benefits of labor outweigh those risks. 

Reasons for birth induction:

There are several reasons a doctor will consider inducing labor with a pregnant woman. Usually the number one reason for birth induction has something to do with the overall health of the mother or baby. Here are some of the reasons doctors will consider before inducing labor:

  • If there is an infection in the uterus
  • If the baby has stopped growing or is growing too large and will cause for a dangerous delivery
  • If the pregnant woman is at least 10 days beyond the due date and labor and delivery hasn't started naturally
  • If the water has broken, but contractions have not started
  • If the placenta begins to deteriorate
  • If the pregnant woman has a medical condition that could put the baby at risk like high blood pressure or diabetes

However, sometimes there are more practical reasons versus medical reasons that are used to justify birth induction including if the pregnant woman lives far away from the hospital or birthing center. Sometimes the doctor will induce labor if the woman has a history of rapid deliveries. This helps for better planning especially if the expectant mother is in need of an epidural or other medication prior to delivery or will help avoid an unattended delivery. Some women may specifically request labor induction to help control the timing and date of delivery. However, this is not always recommended mostly because there are some heath risks involved with birth induction as well as an added cost. It is best to leave the decision to have a birth induction up to the doctor.

Risks with birth induction:

While the risks are generally worth it due to the medical risks that could result sometimes by not inducing birth, there are still risks involved that one should be aware of before birth induction.

  • If the labor is induced too early, it may result in a premature birth, which everyone knows can present health and development risks for the baby. These problems may include difficulty breathing, jaundice skin, infections and other health issues. 
  •  A low heart rate of the baby can result from the medication that is used to induce the labor. This may provoke too many contractions, which will diminish the baby's supply of oxygen and will lower the baby's heart rate.
  • Infection can occur for both the mother and the baby.
  • Problems with the umbilical cord can also result because there is the risk of the cord slipping into the vagina prior to delivery. This is also another factor that could decrease the baby's oxygen supply. 
  • Increased risk of uterine rupture if the pregnant woman has had a prior cesarean section. It is rare for this particular risk to happen, but it has occurred in some instances. This is when the uterus tears open along the scare line from the previous c-section. 

How to prepare for a labor induction:

If you are a pregnant woman whose doctor has discussed opting for a birth induction, there are a few ways you can prepare for this procedure.  Be sure to follow the exact directions of your physician and don't hesitate to ask them any questions you may have. Feeling confident in the doctor and the procedure will help things go a lot smoother. Because the medications you must take prior to birth induction might cause an upset stomach, be sure to only eat light foods before your arrival at the hospital.

What to expect:

There are a few different ways doctors will induce labor. One way would be to sweep the membranes or strip them to separate the amniotic sac from the wall of the uterus. The doctor may also dilate the cervix using synthetic prostaglandin. Sometimes doctors use intravenous medications or will just simply break your water. This ruptures the membranes and causes the water to break. The actually length of labor after it has been induced relies on several factors including whether or not this is your first delivery or if you are prone to longer bouts of labor. It can vary depending on the person. 


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