• Labor Induction

    Sometimes, babies have a mind of their own. That’s true even when it comes to delivery. 

    That’s probably why something like 25% of all babies delivered in the United States are induced. Labor induction involves speeding up the delivery process by stimulating uterine contractions before they begin naturally. Typically, labor is induced to increase the chances of a successful vaginal delivery.

    Generally labor induction is safe. In some cases, however, inducing may raise the risk of certain complications. And while it’s possible to induce under elective circumstances, your OBGYN or Midwife will usually not recommend this procedure unless it is medically warranted. The vast majority of inductions are performed under very specific conditions, resulting in a successful birth and a healthy baby!

    What are Some Strategies/Methods for Labor Induction?

    The strategies and methods used to induce labor will depend on several factors, including how ready your cervix appears, your OBGYN or Midwife’s recommendation, and your preferences. If your cervix is not soft and ready for labor, your OBGYN or Midwife will use a two stage approach:

    If your cervix is already soft and prepared for labor, then your OBGYN or Midwife will likely skip to the second step and focus on inducing contractions.

    Techniques for Preparing the Cervix for Labor

    Techniques for Inducing Contractions

    It can be difficult to predict how long an induction may take. Going from your first contraction to holding your baby in your arms could take anywhere between a few hours to a few days. As long as you and your baby remain healthy during the process, your OBGYN or Midwife will monitor your progress patiently.

    Labor induction is usually performed either in a hospital or birthing center, but sometimes you’ll be sent home to wait for labor to begin. 

    Home Remedies for Induction

    Many patients are already familiar with some “home remedies” which popular culture suggests can successfully induce labor. Everything from sexual intercourse to a vigorous walk to drinking a bit of castor oil may help you go into labor.

    While few of these home remedies will cause active harm, it’s worth noting that there is no evidence that most such home remedies actually work. The exception is nipple stimulation, which has been shown in research to help successfully encourage your uterus to contract and get you ready for labor.

    If you’re thinking about labor induction, you should definitely talk to your OBGYN or Midwife about options that work.

    When Is Labor Usually Induced?

    Inducing labor is not something that should be undertaken lightly. Your OBGYN or Midwife will factor in your current health, the health of your baby, and the risks involved when deciding whether to recommend induction. In general, however, labor is most commonly induced for the following reasons:

    This list is not comprehensive. Your OBGYN or Midwife may have other medical reasons for recommending an induction on a case by case basis.

    In some cases, induction may be considered for non-medical reasons. For example, if you live far away from a hospital, you may wish to induce at a planned time rather than risk a hasty drive to the emergency room.

    These types of decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis, and only after taking the time to weigh risks and benefits. That’s because inducing labor does pose risks–so most OBGYNs and Midwives will seek to avoid doing so unless it is medically necessary.

    When to Avoid Inducing

    If everything is progressing normally, your OBGYN or Midwife will want to avoid labor induction, letting your baby and your body set the schedule. However, there are some instances when your OBGYN or Midwife may avoid inducing labor even if other indications would normally suggest that it’s the best course of action.

    Your OBGYN or Midwife will avoid labor induction if:

    Are There Risks Involved with Inducing?

    For many women, there are some risks involved with inducing labor. Your OBGYN or Midwife will help you evaluate those risks, especially in relation to potential benefits. If induction is performed before the 39th week, your baby could experience health complications. 

    For example, one risk with employing Pitocin is that your contractions may begin to happen too frequently, and this can lower your baby’s heart rate. For this reason, you’ll wear a fetal heart rate monitor so your OBGYN or Midwife can monitor your baby’s safety. 

    Induction may increase your chances of needing a C-Section, but this depends on a variety of other risk factors, so it’s best to talk to your OBGYN or Midwife about the pros and cons.

    Talk About Labor Induction

    If you have questions about when labor is induced (and when it isn’t), the best place to get individualized answers is from your OBGYN or Midwife. While it might sound like an unwanted outcome at first glance, inducing labor can be a great way to increase your chance for a successful vaginal delivery. Sometimes your baby just needs a little encouragement to say hello to the wider world!

    Our midwives track their patients’ induction rates. If you’d like to learn more about those rates or have questions, please contact us at our Wilmette or Glenview offices!