Should I be induced?
The Listening to Mothers II survey revealed an interesting statistic. Half of the women in their survey had attempted to induce labor. 22% tried to start labor on their own at home and 41% had used medical induction methods. 39% of the respondents were actually successful at causing labor to start.
Even more interesting is the reasons women gave for their need to induce labor. Nearly 60% of the women who attempted self induction and 20% of the women who attempted a medical induction did so because the mother wanted to get the pregnancy over with. Another 16% of those who attempted medical induction did so to have control over the labor, such as choosing the timing or to ensure a specific provider was on call.
The US Hospital Discharge Survey gives more evidence of the convenience of induction. There were an average of 13,045 births on any given Tuesday during 2004. There were only an average of 7,501 on any given Sunday. The only possible explanation for an almost double number of births on Tuesday is the scheduling of cesareans and inductions.
Though we have a wide range of research on which methods are the most effective at starting labor, we have very little research on when artificially starting labor is safe or helpful. Instead, induction decisions are based on assumptions that may or may not be true.
The last few weeks and days of pregnancy are important to the development of a baby. Not only are the lungs preparing for the first breath, but the baby is also preparing for life outside the womb in other ways. For example, in the last days of pregnancy the baby begins storing iron to help prevent anemia. The baby is also putting on extra fat which will help to maintain body temperature.
Choosing to artificially end a pregnancy is one of the most dramatic ways to alter your child's development. It is also one of the most dramatic ways to alter the normal course of labor and birth. Because of this, the decision to induce should be made only when the risks of inducing are outweighed by the benefit of the baby being born.
Whether or not your baby would be better off born is open to debate. Different midwives may handle circumstances differently, so it pays to get a second opinion. Please follow the links for more detailed information about the following reasons frequently given for induction:
Goer, Henci. The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. 1999. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group.
Enkin, Keirse, Nilson, Crowther, Duley, Hodnett and Hofmeyr. A guide to effective care in pregnancy and childbirth Third Edition. 2000. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Declercq ER, Sakala C, Corry MP, Applebaum S. Listening to Mothers II: Report of the Second National U.S. Survey of Women’s Childbearing Experiences. New York: Childbirth Connection, October 2006.