While it may seem that jump-starting labor is as simple as revving an engine, the truth is that it carries increased risks for both Mum and baby…including racing towards a cesarean. More often than not, families are given non-evidence-based reasons that are laced with convenience or fear for their baby’s well-being. Below are 5 evidence-based reasons to let labor begin on it’s own. (HELLO Lamaze Health Birth Practice #1!)
#1. The final hormone that signals labor to begin originates from the baby’s lungs.
- This happens when the lungs are mature enough to exchange atmospheric oxygen. The inaccuracy of dating ultrasounds paired with an induction can inadvertently force a NICU stay for baby if they struggle to maintain O2 saturation post-birth.
#2 The contractions produced by Pitocin are stronger, longer, and happen closer together.
- The increased intensity of an induced labor can lead to maternal exhaustion, suffering, and subsequent epidurals. This pain relief option then impairs the pregnant person’s mobility and hormonal cascade related to vaginal birth…while putting into place the cascade of interventions into surgical birth.
#3 Increased risk of postpartum hemorrhage
- Did you know that the same artificial hormone that induces contractions – Pitocin – is also responsible for overloading the oxytocin receptors on the uterus, thus causing uterine atony? This is when the uterus is unable to clamp down effectively to reduce bleeding from the placental site. Wanna know how they fix that? MORE PITOCIN. The pit-cycle is now complete. Wild ride ammirite?
#4 Labor inductions can take DAYS
- It’s easy to think “Hey! Baby should be here by dinner time tonight!” while excitedly posting on social media about arriving at the hospital to be induced. The truth is that between cervical ripening agents, baby still being high in the pelvis, and the soft tissues of the pelvic floor not being ready for birth…inductions can take a very long time. There may be periods of time when the Pitocin drip is turned down or off (pit-stops) to allow rest and reprieve. If you are facing a medically necessary induction of labor, be sure to pack some extra clothing, refreshments, and coping tools.
#5 Breastfeeding and bonding can be more difficult
- Breastfeeding/chestfeeding is actually the sustaining of the same hormones related to vaginal birth. When we artificially initiate the process, it alters the entire cascade of hormones (lowered peak levels). Prolactin is produced in lower levels, thus delaying full milk production or inhibiting a full supply. Oxytocin is known as the “love hormone” and supports our nurturing instincts. I wonder how many could be saved from postpartum mood/anxiety disorders if we lowered the rate of labor inductions?
Listen, I’m not criticizing or condemning here. These are all hugely important factors that no one ever told me before my very own labor induction circa 2006. What I am saying is this: Ask your provider for the evidence they are basing their recommendation off from. Ask if you or your baby are in danger by continuing to wait for natural labor. If the recommendation has something to do with baby’s size…run (or waddle) away to get a second opinion while knowing that ultrasounds are awful at guestimating birth weight.