Everyone’s eager to meet baby, but are elective inductions safe?

ivbag.jpgElective inductions are on the rise in the United States, and while this means many excited mothers get to meet their babies sooner than if they waited for labor to begin spontaneously, it also means they are much more likely to meet their babies as a result of a cesarean section, which of course comes with it’s own set of risks to both mother and child.

According to a study linked on Birthfriend’s Place to Ponder:

In 2004, the National Vital Statistics Report showed the total induction rate (in the United States) to be 21.2%. Of that number, 25% were reported to have no apparent medical indication and were done for the convenience of either the patient or the physician (Martin et al., 2006). This rate represents a 9.5% increase since 1990. An even higher induction rate of 41% was found by the Listening to Mothers II survey (Declercq, Sakala, Corry, Applebaum, & Risher, 2006).

The desire to bring about the onset of labor is nothing new. Throughout history, women have tried to induce labor naturally through “home remedies” such as nipple stimulation, Castor oil, herbal remedies, sexual intercourse and more. As I neared the 41 weeks marker with my son, even I tried to naturally jump start labor by way of acupuncture to increase my chances of having a home birth. I went into labor that night. Had I reached 42 weeks, my likelihood of being legally allowed to have a home birth would have decreased.

The way I see it though is the difference between using natural means of inducing labor and medical means is the end result. With either one labor will begin only if the woman’s body (cervix) is ready. However, with the natural methods, if labor doesn’t begin, the end result is the woman is still pregnant and has to wait until her body is ready. With the medical/pharmaceutical means of induction, if labor doesn’t begin or progress according to the care provider’s timetable, the end result will most often be a c-section.

It is important to note that a woman should consult with her care provider before trying any induction method, even natural ones.

If you are leaning towards a medical elective induction, in addition to discussing your options and risk factors with your care provider, it is also important to do your own research and be an informed customer so you can make the choice that’s best for the health of both you and your baby.

Although the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommends against elective inductions citing “Induction of labor is indicated when the benefits to either the mother or fetus outweigh those of continuing the pregnancy” (in other words, when medically necessary), many doctors are more than happy to accommodate a mom who is tired of being pregnant. Some doctors routinely do inductions at 40 weeks, even if “it’s perfectly normal for 80 percent of healthy babies to have anywhere from a 38- to 42-week gestation” and even if a woman is not asking for it.

NedaAnn (AKA Iluvmysweetpea) who blogs at The unstable mind of an unhealthy body told me on Twitter that when she was preparing for the birth of her daughter four and a half years ago, she and the rest of the women in her childbirth class were told that at 40 weeks they would be induced. “We were told that at 40 weeks our fluid started to diminish, so it was a danger to baby. That’s why we needed to be induced.” On top of that, she said, her doctor who practiced at Albert Lea Medical Center in Minnesota told the class they use Cytotec for inductions. Having had done her research about the safety of Cytotec, she asked him about it and was told it was “not that bad.” Her daughter Trinity came a month early, so she never had to deal with a possible induction, but NedaAnn believes, “Pregnancy used to be 42 weeks long, so why are we inducing at 40 weeks or before? I know there are legit reasons in a few cases, but overall it is a matter of convenience and I just don’t think the risks are worth the convenience. And Cytotec should be banned.”

The issue with Cytotec (misoprostol), if you are unfamiliar with this drug, is it has been FDA-approved only for treating ulcers, NOT for inducing labor. According to Marsden Wagner, MD, MS, “On the Cytotec label it is explicitly written that this drug is contraindicated for use on pregnant women.” Using Cytotec to induce labor has many “serious adverse effects … including maternal or fetal death, uterine rupture, and severe vaginal bleeding and shock.” These risks are even greater if the woman is attempting a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). According to an article on iVillage, “Cytotec’s sole appeal is price. Cytotec costs pennies per induction, whereas Prepidil and Cervidil cost close to $100 per dose, and more than one dose may be needed. Cytotec also reduces the need for intravenous oxytocin (Pitocin), the hormone that stimulates contractions, another savings.”

According to an article on CNN “Five Ways to Avoid a C-section,” the number one way to avoid having a c-section to to get induced only if it’s medically necessary and points out that first-time moms have a greatly increased risk of having a c-section after an induction.

One of the biggest risks of an elective induction is that it will, the majority of the time, end up in a c-section.

“If you decide to have an induction because your obstetrician is going out of town, or because your husband is going out of town, that may seem like a bona fide reason, but you’ll pay the price with an increased rate in C-sections,” said Dr. Michael Klein, emeritus professor of family practice and pediatrics at the University of British Columbia, who’s studied C-sections.

Klein says studies of first-time moms show that 44 percent of those who are induced end up with a C-section but that only 8 percent of those who go into labor spontaneously end up with a C-section. Doctors say many times, inducing women way before the cervix is ready can lead to unproductive labor, which then necessitates a C-section.”

A labor and delivery nurse who blogs at At Your Cervix says in her post Inductions Galore, “My last few shifts at work have been a wide variety of patients. Inductions that go no where, inductions that take off super fast and precipitously deliver, pretermers, preeclamptics, c-sections. I think I’ve done it all in the last few shifts. What bugs me are the inductions. These docs really dig for reasons to induce.” And then she details the list of reasons doctors will induce. Then she also adds, “Then again, we have some docs who refuse to induce for made up reasons.”

While many women may not have heard of this, there is a tool that helps care providers assess a woman’s likelihood of having a successful induction – it’s called the Bishop or Bishop’s score. According to Revolution Health: “For the purpose of inducing labor with medicine, the Bishop score helps a health professional assess a woman’s physical readiness to progress through vaginal delivery. The Bishop score is a rating of how soft, open, and thinned the cervix is (dilation and effacement), as well as how low in the pelvis the cervix and baby are positioned.

Bishop scores range from 0 to 10. The higher the number, the more likely a vaginal delivery will be successful. ”

Want to know if you are ready for induction? You can even take an interactive quiz online that will assess the readiness of your cervix.

Jennifer Block at Pushed Birth discusses Why Not Schedule It?

What will an induction mean for you? If you induce, you’ll be admitted to the hospital and will most likely spend the next 24 hours of labor confined to bed. Because staff will need to kickstart and maintain contractions and dilation with drugs like Pitocin, Cytotec, and Cervidil, they will require IV fluids and continuous fetal monitoring. At that point you’ll very likely want an epidural, because Pitocin contractions are more painful, especially when you can’t move around. A director of OB/GYN in New York City called Pitocin without an epidural “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Jennifer adds:

If you’re considering a medically unnecessary induction, think about whom it will really benefit. While it may seem more convenient to just book it, think of the inconvenience of recovering from major surgery, or waiting for your baby to be released from a NICU — two very real possibilities. And think also about the increased risk to your pelvic parts of a pushed birth. Again, the best, healthiest option for both you and your baby is labor that your body starts on its own, progresses on its own, and concludes on its own terms.

Although there is a lot of information out there against elective inductions, there are legitimate reasons why a woman would opt for one. Christine from Watch me! No, watch me! (a mama who graduated from medical school just a month before her son was due) decided on an elective induction at 41.5 weeks. She had contracted PUPPP (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy) at 38.5 weeks, which, in her own words, is “a HORRIBLY itchy rash that is covered in hard plaques. So, you’re itchy but can’t even get any temporary relief from scratching because of the hard top layer (gross, I know). Worse than that, the hard plaques themselves irritate the underlying rash. It was a nightmare. I couldn’t wear clothes and even sitting down was and excruciating mix of unbearable itchiness and pain.” By 41+ weeks, the rash had spread everywhere except her face and breasts and she was unable to sleep for more than two hours at a time.

The only thing that cures PUPPP is delivery, so at 41.5 weeks, Christine asked to be induced. After considering her condition and that she was getting weaker and weaker from lack of sleep, her doctors agreed to it. Due to her son being posterior, she was unable to progress past 6 cm, and decided along with her doctor that a c-section would be best, which Christine had a very positive experience with.

Christine notes that because of her medical background she was “a very well-informed patient.” She adds, “I knew what was going on from start to finish and this is the route I chose.”

Sheridan at Enjoy Birth Blog believes there are Five Good Reasons for an Induction, as well as Five Questionable Reasons for Induction, and Five NO Risk Alternatives to Inductions.

I’ve personally given birth to two children – one was medically induced with Pitocin due to my developing HELLP syndrome at 39 weeks and the other labor began on it’s own (well, after a round of acupuncture the night before). The difference in the two labors was very noteworthy. When I was induced with Pitocin, my contractions quickly became nearly unbearable and I felt I had no breaks in between them. They just kept hitting me over and over. With the induction I was also restricted to laboring in bed, which I feel inhibited my ability to effectively deal with the pain. Even though I had no intention of having an epidural when I went into it, I quickly changed my tune and asked for one but was denied it due to my falling platelet levels, so I had to cope with the pain in other ways. With my labor that began naturally I was able to move about freely and change positions. The pain never became unbearable. In fact, it only got really uncomfortable in the last hour or so, but was still manageable, as opposed to my medically-induced labor that was uncomfortable and borderline unbearable for hours. Both labors lasted around 12 hours, but the differences between the two were unforgettable. I’d never choose to be induced again unless (again) I had very good reason for it. I can’t imagine putting my body or my baby through that without good reason.

Additional resources:
- Mothering magazine: Let the Baby Decide: The Case against Inducing Labor
- CYTOTEC petition: Cytotec (misoprostol) for Labor Induction Consumer Awareness
- From Henci Goer, author of The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth: Elective induction of labor – “Is elective induction safe and effective?”, “Who makes a good candidate for elective induction?”, and “How can women considering elective induction minimize the risks?”
- From Descent to Truth. To Life. To Birth. To Motherhood.: Stop the Misuse of Cytotec to Induce Labor

Cross-posted on BlogHer

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33 thoughts on “Everyone’s eager to meet baby, but are elective inductions safe?

  1. I’ve been blessed to always go into labor on my own, but from what I’ve experienced with inductions with friends and family… oh, I advise everyone against it if they possibly can wait! Even waiting one more day- that might be when the baby decides to come on his own. My SIL was only 2 days overdue but anxious, so the doctor induced her. It was painful and long- into the second day they were thisclose to a c-section and finally the baby made it without surgery. But obviously she just wasn’t ready to come out yet! Another friend was induced and it turned out the babies lungs weren’t fully developed and he had to be in the NICU for a week. So, in addition to the extra pain and probably longer labor for the Mom, there could be complications for baby, too.

    Natural methods like you mentioned should be tried definitely before going to pitocin or other hospital route- I took red raspberry leaf at the end of my pregnancy and also had a 9 months chiropractor adjustment (and went into labor the next day- 8 days early!)

    Steph

  2. Another excellent, well-researched article.

    When are you writing a book and can I help? ;)

    I fear that inductions, while sometimes necessary, are encouraged under false pretenses. I’ve had several friends now told that it is the way to go, even though they were experiencing no medical issues with their pregnancy.

    I considered it when pregnant with my first to try to encourage labor while my husband was home on leave from Iraq (baby showed up two days before, anyway) and am VERY glad I had a midwife and she explained the risks involved and basically said not to do it.

    Too many times since then I’ve seen the induction lead to an emergency c-section.

  3. Thank you for posting about this very important topic. I was at 41 weeks gestation with my daughter when the doctors recommended an induction. My amniotic fluid was gone..not ruptured, no leaking…just reabsorbed, and my daughter’s heart rate was decelerating. In a panic, I agreed to the induction, and it was definitely a horrible, excruciatingly painful experience. The pitocin brought the contractions on one after the other and were so intense that I was writhing in pain. I ended up electing for the epidural because I honestly didn’t think I could make it without some pain relief.

    My daughter was born healthy, and I’m thankful for that. However, under different circumstances–if both the baby and I were healthy and not in danger–I would let nature run its course in the future.

  4. I’ve been induced three out of three pregnancies. All of my children were healthy babies. So why were they induced? I was around 41 weeks every time. The last labor I could tell the baby just wasn’t ready to come. Although I have had positive vaginal births everytime, I am convinced that inducing just isn’t right – if my body is waiting longer, but my kids are perfectly healthy, shouldn’t I be trusting my body’s timing?

    Next time, I will put my foot down.

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  6. I too am against elective inductions. My first child (7.5 years ago) was an emergency C-section and I’m convinced that it’s because when I came in with my broken water the doctors insisted on hooking me up to meds to induce labor because I just wasn’t far enough along for them. Well, 20 hours later there were problems and they had to take her by C-section. I’m now pregnant again and while I wanted very badly to have a VBAC as naturally as possible because I’ve become a little bit granola over the years, I don’t have a choice but to have a planned C :-((. Reason being is that 2 years ago a huge fibroid tumor was discovered growing on the outside of my uterus and between that surgery (myomectomy) and the c-section, my uterus is at great risk for rupturing if I go in to active labor. Well worth the planned C in this case but still disappointing for me.

  7. I had two inductions (both for medical as well as individual reasons) and the risks were really not explained to me either time. The first was long but successful (though my water broke on its own in between induction medications). I had Cytotec, which brought on killer contractions but did not help dilation a bit. I had NO IDEA at the time that Cytotec was also used to facilitate abortions. Nor did I know of the risks of utertine rupture or maternal or fetal death. Makes me sick to think about, just sick. I feel very lucky I did not have complications, nor did my child.

    With the second induction, I refused Cytotec. I was afraid I would be met with opposition but my doctor and the nursing staff respected my wishes. My labor was probably longer for lack of using it, but I felt it was safer. Cervidil and Pitocin were enough.

    I don’t regret either induction, but I wish I had been better informed the first time. I can’t decide if I am frustrated with my doctor (and child birth class the first time) for not better educating me about the risks or if I should have taken more responsibility for educating myself. A little of both, I suppose.

    Thanks, Amy, for an informative post.

  8. I had a healthy, uneventful pregnancy and my OB *still* pressured me weekly to get induced on my due date! I had to deal with a lot of unnecessary stress from him trying to convince me that my baby was at risk if I went one day past 40 weeks.

    I stuck to my guns and went into labor naturally at exactly 41 weeks. I was lucky enough to have a natural birth and an quick recovery. Who knows what would have happened if I’d allowed myself to be induced unnecessarily!

    To this day I believe my OB wanted me to be induced because my due date was a Thursday and he didn’t want to risk having to come in and deliver me on a weekend!

  9. I totally agree with your point about the difference between medical and ‘natural’ induction!

    My last birth was a VBAC (first c-section was due to severe complications of a twin pregnancy and was done at 29 weeks)and my OB wouldn’t allow me to be medically induced because of the risks.

    By 41 weeks I had declined a repeat c-section date twice and was feeling some pressure from the hospital (though not from my OB) for being ‘so over due’. I tried a number of different ‘natural’ methods and eventually went into labour after the second dose of castor oil (though I am not convinced that is what did it I think I was just finally ready) at 42 weeks and 2 days – 8 hours later a healthy baby and my very much wanted VBAC.

    The pressure placed on women because of the hospital’s ideal ‘due date’ is frustrating and in some cases tragic. I was monitored off and on after I got to 41+3 and there was no signs of the baby being in distress, of my fluid levels dropping or any reason why he should have been delivered, yet they still pressured me because it was ‘against policy’.

  10. this was a great post, very informative.
    my own story:
    i went into labor twice on my own (my water broke both times at almost exactly the same time: 2am) and i fully expected the same thing to happen with the third…but she just stuck around til almost 40 weeks. the doctor suggested induction because i was slightly dilated and because i’d had 2 successful and relatively uneventful deliveries…induction was really quick – we got there at 7:30am and the baby was born right after lunch. but reading your post i realize just how lucky i was – i had no idea of the risks that were involved. (i must admit i was pretty pleased with the idea of induction with the 2 little ones already at home, we could plan for their care.)

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  12. When I was three days overdue, my doctor insisted on inducing me due to the size of my baby. I did EVERYTHING (acupuncture, herbs, quantum touch, etc) to get labor going. I could not get labor going, although the day I went in I had progressed so far I believe I would have gone into labor that day. I had a doula present at my birth to have as natural a delivery as possible.

    I found the pitocin did not give my body a break. Although I went through naturally, I felt wiped out and very ill. My doula kept saying to me that it would have felt so much different without the pitocin.

    I feel more educated now. My next birth I plan to go to a midwife and again have a doula present but I will pray that my body starts laboring on its own.

    This was a great post! Thanks.

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  14. With my first, I went into labor at 39 weeks naturally. I had an epidural at 7cm, and stopped progressing, so I had an induction to avoid C-Section (since my waters had broken). I had no idea of the risks, nothing was explained at all. It was a blessing everything worked out and I had her after six hours. With my second, my doctor induced at 39 weeks since I was carrying such a big baby, and he was growing every week. Once again, I felt like I had to induce to avoid a C-Section. This time, I was induced before the epidural, and I have never experience such horrible pain. I had to wait for the epidural behind five other women. I was so thankful when the epidural took effect! I had my second after seven hours.

  15. I was “voluntarily” induced with my son, but he was measuring bigger (and I knew without a doubt that my “period” was because I’d been in a car accident and had conceived 2 weeks earlier than believed). I was also already 6 cm dilated when I went in for the scheduled, and had it done with only have my water broken (with the crochet hook looking thing). He was born 2 hours later, so he was definitely ready.
    My daughter, she was an induced birth, but only because I had pre-eclampsia, and I was heading headlong towards full-blown toxemia, and had to get her out THEN, and had a longer labor because of the meds from that (magnesium stalled it, since I was technically “in labor” when I went it, but it had stalled on it’s own, and then blood pressure spiked dangerously high).

  16. The important thing to remember is that women need to be in charge of their bodies and not give in to all the decisions made by doctors. Yes they are educated…but so are midwives… We should become educated about our choices….only that way can we make informed decisions about ourselves and our children.

    Point in case:
    My mother was a midwife for several years before she married and had children. She is blessed with not having contractions nor much dilation when her body was ready to give birth. This took her by surprise, for when she gave birth to her first child (my older brother) she had some back pain. She told her mother she “did not feel right” and her mother advised her to go to the hospital “just in case”. She later coughed and her water broke. In less than one hour she had her first child in her arms.

    18 months later, her body is telling her it is time to give birth to me. My father’s boss (who was also head of the OBGyN dept a the hospital where my father worked) would not even consider the fact that she was ready because there were no labor pains nor any dilating. Result? She was labeled a nervous foreigner (my parents were from Greece) and given TRANQUILIZERS! My father backed her OBGyN because he was head of his dept….two weeks of being only able to sit on a toilet and not being able to breath well she insisted she go back to the hospital. The doctor checked her and said that there was nothing going on. He left the room to sign the release papers…when massive bleeding began to occur. My dad finally understood, physically forced the Dr. back into the room…where he started screaming “We are going to have a baby!”

    I was born blue….but after a while in the “tank” was fine. The doctor told my mother, “I remember reading about women with your condition…” To which my mother said…”Well, it must have happened somewhere in order for it to be in a book. Next time listen to your patients!”

    Needless to say when she had her third child my mother told this doctor and my father she would not be having it in that hospital.

  17. As much as I want to go into natural labor, my condition impedes me to do so. I have been diagnosed with CPD (CephaloPelvic Disproportion) and also my coccyx is curved (it is said that I may have an accident at an early age which means there are scar tissues left there that prevents the coccyx to go as it should be). So I undergo C-Section against my will. My condition was deemed to be risky as the doctors said there is no way they can take out the baby but to get a c-section.

    If I have the condition and opportunity to do natural birth, I would. I understand the point of your article. Most mothers should still go through natural birth. I mean, if you and your baby are perfectly normal, why induce and why go through c-section? Some Moms thought that the easiest way is to do this. Oh but I’m telling you—if I were you, don’t try this. If you can take the pain for a long time, try it. But this is not encouraged.

    I have a cousin who wasn’t allowed to have induction. It’s a good choice by her doctor.

    It takes a lot of patience to do so. But before you decide, you should always set your facts straight.

    Thanks for sharing this very informative article.

  18. Hi Amy,

    How true that information was relative to my own three birth experiences! Baby 1: Induced, Epidural, Fetal heart rate drop, thankfully did not need C-Section, but he ended up in the NICU for a day.

    Baby 2: Petosin, No Epidural, and it WAS cruel and unusual punishment as either your article or one of the others you linked to said. Extreme pain!!!

    Baby 3: Came early on his own, no artificial breaking of waters, no epidural, I had to call the Doctor in to convince them I was ready to push. Happened so fast that they had to have me sign the papers it was OK to deliver the baby 45 minutes after the birth.

    Of course, these are the super short versions of these stories, but you get the picture. Having had those 3 experiences, I know that I will avoid Petosin like the plague from now on with any future births because being able to get up and walk around the hospital and labor in various positions was a life-saver for me with my third baby. Also, the recovery was much, much faster and easier. My body went back much more easily, etc., etc., etc.

    Plus, bonus, the baby/toddler is much calmer than the other 2. Maybe the petosin affected them in some way as the articles were saying. My second one especially cried so much when he was a baby. Maybe, who knows, it was partly due to the drugs. Also, baby number 2 came out with all of that white cheesy stuff on him like he was WAY EARLY and even the doctor said he could have waited a week or so. But, baby number 3 who was SUPPOSEDLY early came out looking perfect and all rosey and fresh. Not at all like an early baby.

    So, thank you for a very very interesting post and I think a very very valuable one.

    Thanks again for the great info!

    Megan

  19. I had Pitocin for both births. With Kai, I was in natural labor, got the evil epidural and it stopped my contractions. That was a long birth and after 2.5 hours of pushing the doctor was *this close* to giving me a c-section. With the help of a vacuum and using the rest of my strength I gave birth to him at 6am.

    For Anya, I didn’t want any pain killers unless I absolutely couldn’t stand it. I was at 38.5 weeks and got induced because we have no family within 2 hours of us plus she was measuring big. We needed to plan the birth so someone could watch Kai. I was already dilated to 4, so I guess my body was partly ready. The pitocin wasn’t too bad for me, but I did get some nubane when I went through transition. I wasn’t restricted to my bed, and was able to take a bath. After 12 hours with Kai the 3hrs 40 minutes of my induced labor was much easier. BUT that is just my experience and I know inductions usually don’t go so well.

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  21. Excellent article again, Amy.

    I have very strong opinions on all aspects of childbirth, but the one that I am comfortable sharing with every expectant mother I know is regarding induction. Not only can gestation length vary, but many women are not sure of when they actually ovulated and *gasp* measuring and sonograms cannot always accurately predict due dates.

    I think waiting to let your body go into labor on its own is the best gift you can give your newborn.

    Granted, come 40 weeks, it’s really difficult not to reach for that castor oil!!

  22. Thank you for this post about birth.

    Somewhere alonlg the line the women of the US stopped thinking about birth as something healthy and natural anf began looking at pregnancy and birth as a sick condition. Why did we stop trusting our bodies? Why did we start demanding medical interventions?

    In countries with higher rates of midwifery, there are higher rates of healthy babues and mummys.

    How can we spread the word that birth is normal and that being induced and cut open is not the east option for the majority of mummys and babies?

  23. I know it’s almost impossible, but how DO you talk to a friend who is pregnant about avoiding inductions?

    As a case in point, a friend of mine was expecting her first baby. Her OB told her that he might need to induce her because her baby was, in his words going to be “too big”–over 9 pounds. Now, SHE is a TALL woman, at least 5’9″ and her husband is well over 6 feet. It stands to all reason that their baby would be “large.” I tried to bring up a few points such as, “You’re both big people” and “Your body was built to deliver the size of baby that you’ll have,” but all of it fell on deaf ears. She allowed the induction and ended up having a c-section.

    I feel so frustrated because she trusted her OB over well, everything else. There was nothing that I, or the other friends that also said something to her, could do. I’m still a little upset at the whole thing. That c-section could have been avoided (in all likelihood) had she not agreed to the induction.

    What else can we say? What else is there to be done? Do we have to start with the OBs?

  24. p.s. I say that as someone who was electively induced at a week past due date.

    It was for the worst reason: I was going to lose insurance coverage the next day.

    Now, I should say that I’d been dialating and contracting for a month and a half. I had been 100% effaced for more than a week. When I walked into the hospital I was dialated to a 9; the little one just didn’t want to engage, he was just bobbing around.

    My midwife broke my water and I gave birth less than an hour later.

    I’m NOT HAPPY that I basically was forced to induce because of the threat of losing of insurance coverage, we have an absolutely ridiculous health care system, that’s for sure.

    The important thing is that I knew about the risks for induction, but I also knew my body was basically on the cusp of delivering on its own. I was, and am conflicted about the induction. I just wish women would take the health of their bodies in their own hands.

  25. I went 9 days over, and I’m SO thankful I didn’t opt for an induction. I work in the hospital I delivered in and the other day a nurse came in who remembered me from one of my nonstress tests. She said at the desk they were talking about me and how they rarely ever saw a woman hit 40 weeks, much less 41! My doctor was all set to start pitocin to speed up my labor but it happened on its own :-) I feel lucky to have had a vaginal birth and next time I will be having a birthing center or home birth.

  26. A director of OB/GYN in New York City called Pitocin without an epidural “cruel and unusual punishment.”

    Isn’t that the truth! I went an hour on pitocin with my first and no epidural because the anesthesiologist was busy with another patient somewhere else in the hospital. My poor nurse was in a panic from my screaming.

    My second was a C-section, but for an excellent reason. I was out of amniotic fluid and he was breech. Those two together would have put his life at risk in a normal delivery. The low amniotic fluid can lead to miscarriage. The look on my grandmother’s face when she heard the story was really something. She’d lost a baby about 50 years before to low amniotic fluid, and she teared up hearing my story. Made me grateful for the technology that protected my son.

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  28. I have always began labor on my own, using midwives/homebirths. However, my sister only this past week was offered an elective induction, because her OB was going on vacation. She accepted and luckily and blessedly, she is the proud mother of a healthy son. But the risks were there, her contractions were much harder and back to back. She had a tough time, with an epidural that did not take. She is not of the natural childbirth stock as I am, and needless to say was not pleased at that. All worked out for her in the end, but for many others it does not. I for one, do not reccomend elective inductions, after doula-ing for my sister, I can say that the Pit-drip causes far more trouble than waiting an extra week or so. Blessings.

  29. Thanks for this informative article. Nothing burns me up more than elected inductions (well maybe elected c-sections).
    I took castor oil. The ontractions may as well have been as bad as with pitocin, and I got mad at myself for not letting the baby come when I/she was ready. It made labor horrible and i had to get an epidural (my post about epidurals are for tolerating the hospital…)
    I tell all moms who are impatient- just tough it out a bit longer…it is worth it!

  30. Excellent post, I’ll definitely keep it handy to forward to any friends with babies coming. I was two weeks past my estimated due date before my midwife even brought up the possibility of natural induction, and happily little Del came before we had to make a decision. I also agree that the pain of natural childbirth is truly not difficult until the last half hour or so!

    I think it’s great that you’re combining your own story and other women’s stories with research research and scientific information. My mother told a similar story of a difficult birth with induction compared with much easier experiences without. Hearing women’s stories really helped ground me and lead me to trust in the woman’s perspective. It’s that kind of informed awareness that helps women empower themselves!

  31. Dear Blogger,

    CNN’s Medical Unit noticed you have linked to our Empowered Patient feature. We are in the process of creating a mailing list and invite you to be one of the first to join and receive future email Empowered Patient updates. Please reply to empoweredpatient@cnn.com with your email address if you are interested.

    Best wishes,
    CNN Medical

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