Today, it is estimated that over 40% of all births will be medically induced, and less than 10% of them actually are medically necessary. When the term medically necessary is used, it means for a valid medical reason, not because it is your due date, or because you are uncomfortable. Let’s face it, all of us are uncomfortable come the last month of pregnancy. If women wanted to be comfortable, we would never get pregnant right?
But the concern today is that the rise in non medically necessary inductions is having a huge impact on not only our mothers, but babies too. 40% of all women who have their labor induced will end up in the operating room having a surgical delivery, A.K.A. a C-section. Also, what women are not being told, is that non medically necessary labor inductions are not approved by the FDA, as well as one of the most popular labor induction drugs, cytotec.Cytotec has grown in popularity, but not for its intended use, a ulcer drug, but with all the problems it has caused in labor inductions, some parts of the country have started to discourage the use. What was the problem with this drug? It causes something called uterine rupture. That is where the mother’s uterus ruptures during labor, and if the baby is not immediately delivered (we are talking no more than 10 minutes at most) you will have a dead baby and/or mother. This tragic situation has popped up all over the country, and even has a foundation about stopping the use of this drug on pregnant women. Yet still the FDA has not stepped in, neither has our government or hospitals.
Another popular drug used for labor induction is pitocin, a synthetic form of oxytocin that is given through IV which causes contractions. What is the problem with pitocin, like most labor induction methods is, it causes unnaturally strong contractions which are not only hard on the mother, but can be dangerous to the unborn baby, by compromising their air supply, as well as doubles the risk that the baby can be born in a poor condition. For mom, it causes increased blood loss as well of a serious increased risk in a cesarean section, which in itself holds risks.
So why are women being induced at record numbers today? Various reasons, like before I stated comfort and convenience. But there is more to it. There is doctors going on vacation, scheduling births around their office hours, not wanting to be called away to a birth in the middle of the night. Some practices even have an induction rate of 80-100%!!! Now, not all doctors or practices are like this, in fact most are not, but being educated is key.
Another thing that I must point out while writing about this subject is the increase in births that are taking place on week days between 9am and 5pm. It is no coincidence. Mothers are not magically giving birth during the most convenient hours for their care providers. It is directly linked with the number of unnecessary inductions that are taking place.
Now, many of you say, who cares… I will not induce or I will induce, of course, you have the risk to informed consent to any medical procedure you see fit, as does anyone else. But before making these choices you should be fully informed.
Some risks of induction :
- Increased risk of abnormal fetal heart rate.
- Increased risk of fetal distress.
- Increased risk of shoulder dystocia.
- Drastically increased risk of your baby being admitted into the NICU.
- Increased risk of vaccum extraction or forcep delivery.
- Increased risk of a cesarean section.
- Increased risk of prematurity.
- Increased risk of jaundice.
One specific I would like to go into detail about is the risk of prematurity and how inaccurate due dates are, even with early ultrasound dating. Due dates can be up to 2 full weeks off. So lets do a little bit of math. If a mother makes the choice to be induced at 38 weeks pregnant, when a full term pregnancy is 40-42 weeks gestation, and your due date is inaccurate, you can be delivering your baby at 36 weeks and there may be serious risk to the baby.
When making decisions surrounding your pregnancy care, do yourself, and your baby a favor, and seriously research your choices. It could mean a better delivery and healthier baby for you!
A couple suggested articles are :