It has become the fashion to induce labor for a variety of reasons. While I admit that there are some scenarios in which it is safer for the mother to go into labor than to continue the pregnancy, that’s not usually the case. Nevertheless, many women get induced. And most of the time, the reason is simply that they are overdue. A woman may also be told that her baby will get too big to fit through the birth canal if pregnancy continues too much longer.
Inducing Is a Bad Idea
Most women trust their bodies to carry their baby to term. And with good reason. Your body is perfectly capable for growing the baby you conceived without any conscious effort on your part. Of course you can help out by taking care of yourself, for example, eating healthy and getting enough sleep. But essentially, your baby is growing on autopilot. And labor and birth follow the same principles.
You’re not going to go into labor before your baby is ready. And you really shouldn’t. There is a reason for your baby to stay in there as long as he or she wants to. There’s no need to take a look at your calendar and talk about being overdue. Your baby doesn’t care what date it is. Your baby doesn’t have a calendar, and she doesn’t need one.
If you have researched natural childbirth, then you have probably already found a lot of sources that talk about the risks of induction. They are real. Inducing labor with Pitocin increases the risk of you getting an epidural, which increases the risk of a C-section. Being induced also requires you to be hooked up to the fetal monitor, which produces a whole new set of risks. I am no going to rehash what other people have already said about inductions. The bottom line is that if it’s not truly necessary, don’t do it.
But What about Natural Inductions?
When you understand the risks of inducing with Pitocin, you might start looking for natural ways to induce labor. But whether you try taking castor oil (as yucky as it is), try your luck with Evening Primrose oil, go for a walk, have sex, or agree to a membrane sweep, you’re still trying to force your body to do something it’s not ready to do. And while some of these inductions methods might be less risky than Pitocin, that doesn’t mean they’re natural.
I’m not implying that you shouldn’t have sex or go for a walk. If you’re up for either at 40+ weeks of your pregnancy, I think you should go for it and enjoy yourself. But don’t try to force your body to go into labor, because it won’t work until your body is ready. And inducing labor isn’t really a natural process of childbirth. That’s why I think a natural induction is an oxymoron, because inductions are simply not natural.
Ignore Your Guess Date
Your estimated due date or guess date can be off by several weeks (5 weeks according to an article I recently saw here: http://news.discovery.com/human/health/should-due-dates-be-replaced-by-due-months-130806.htm). Some women go into labor early because they ovulate early in the cycle or their babies just don’t need as much time to cook. Some women ovulate late and have slow-cookers (that would be me). It’s all fine. With my last pregnancy, I almost made it to 44 weeks (I was one day shy). And our precious baby boy only weighed 7 lbs 11 oz. He really didn’t need to be born sooner.
The Myth about Big Babies
If your doctor is telling you to get induced because your baby is really big, you probably shouldn’t believe him. Most doctors use an ultrasound to estimate the baby’s size, and ultrasounds are notoriously inaccurate in estimating birth weight. But even if your baby weighs 9 lbs, 10 lbs, or more, you can still have a vaginal birth naturally whenever baby decides to come. Waiting an extra week or two (or almost four) doesn’t really mean your baby’s head will be too big to fit through the birth canal. It’s ridiculous to think that our bodies are that faulty.
When Inducing Is Your Only Option
Aside from inducing out of medical necessity, there is a scenario where I can see agreeing to an induction. If you plan on giving birth at home or at a birth center with a midwife, and you’re coming up to 42 or 43 weeks (whatever her professional limit dictates), then you might consent to a membrane sweep or to taking castor oil. But that’s only because your alternative is to have your baby at the hospital. I can say that I prefer a membrane sweep over giving birth at the hospital (I’ve done both). But I’d much rather do without the membrane sweep, too. Of course, if you give birth unassisted, then you don’t even have to worry about your midwife’s constraints. You can let your baby decide when he or she will be born just the way it was meant to happen. All it needs is a little bit of patience.