Most pregnant women will go into labor on their own, without any assistance. In some cases, your OB/GYN may recommend inducing your labor. This is done in the hospital using a combination of medications that cause contractions, ultimately leading to cervical dilation and then delivery. Usually, labor induction is recommended when the risks of continuing the pregnancy for the mother, baby, or both outweigh the benefits of waiting to go into labor. Some women may choose to have their labor induced rather than wait to go into labor on their own, even if they do not have any medical problems -this is called an elective induction of labor.
On a recent episode of the “Healthful Women Podcast,” Dr. Fox speaks with Dr. Sara Kostant about the reasons why your OB/GYN may recommend labor induction. Below are a few points from their discussion.
It May Benefit Your Health
In some cases, labor induction may benefit your health if you’re experiencing medical complications brought on by (or worsened by) your pregnancy. A woman who has high blood pressure can still have a healthy pregnancy, but her doctor may recommend delivery of her baby before her due date to prevent this condition from worsening. A woman who develops preeclampsia – an illness during pregnancy that causes high blood pressure and sometimes seizures – will recover once her baby is delivered. Even in this situation, a labor induction can result in a safe delivery for the mother and baby.
It May Benefit Your Baby’s Health
Most babies do not need to be delivered before a mother’s due date. However, your doctor may recommend an earlier labor induction out of concern for your baby. Reasons for this can include very slow growth of the baby and very low (or very high) amniotic fluid levels. For mothers who are diabetic, a labor induction may be recommended before or at the due date, depending on the level of blood glucose control. Even for low-risk pregnant women, labor induction may be recommended if they have not gone into labor 1 to 2 weeks past their due date. The reasoning behind inducing labor in these situations is to avoid any risk to the baby’s health.
What’s important to know is that if a baby needs to be delivered due to mother’s (or baby’s) health concern, the mother does not automatically have to have a Cesarean section; if it is safe for the baby to be delivered in the next 24 hours, there is time to try inducing labor with the goal of safe vaginal delivery.
Pregnant women may choose to have an elective induction for a variety of reasons. Some women may want to schedule their delivery because they live far from the hospital, and want to make sure they arrive on time. Others may prefer a scheduled delivery so that they can re-organize their childcare and work responsibilities. If an induction is elective, it will not be scheduled earlier than 39 weeks. However, when labor induction is done for a medical reason, it can be scheduled earlier than 39 weeks. When considering an elective labor induction, women should understand that the process may take longer than if she were to go into labor on her own; recent research has shown that a properly managed labor induction should not increase the risk of a Cesarean section.
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You can listen to our latest episode of “Healthful Women” here.
Carnegie Imaging for Women blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!