Induction 101


Those last few weeks pregnant can feel like a waiting game. 

"Am I ever going to go into labor?"

Although its easy to feel impatient, your body will begin labor when it's ready, but some women need a little help to start the process. 

For some expectant mothers, it can seem like baby's too comfortable to make their grand appearance and must be medically induced to get the ball rolling. Induction doesn't have a bad reputation, but there are a fair amount of unknowns and a lack of awareness of the process.

What does it actually mean for your labor to be induced?

Induction is the artificial start of labor when it has not begun on it's own. Induction uses synthetic versions of hormones that occur in a mother's body to kick start the labor process. The most commonly used induction drug is Pitocin which is an artificial version of Oxytocin, the hormone that produces contractions.

Sometimes contractions are not enough to stimulate labor on their own, so other hormones may be used or doctors might advise manually breaking your water or opening the cervix. 

Is labor induction safe?

40 weeks is the average gauge to timeline your pregnancy. When a pregnancy continues past 42 weeks, it can become unsafe for mom and baby. The placenta begins to work less effectively, causing fresh oxygen to be in short supply for baby. Medical inductions are routine and they are often utilized as a means to keep mom and baby as safe as possible. 

When can induction be unsafe?

The maturation of your pregnancy is actually an estimation factored by your menstrual cycle at the time you discover you're pregnant. This can mean your due date is off by a few days to even several weeks. Inducing too early can put your baby at risk if they have yet to fully develop. Professionals recommend asking your doctor to wait until you are at minimum 39 weeks to induce labor if you are experiencing an otherwise healthy pregnancy. 

How long does induction take?

Every body and pregnancy is different. Induction can take anywhere from several hours to almost 3 days. Typically a first pregnancy will take longer to induce, as will a pregnancy that is termed earlier than 37 weeks. This is one of the biggest uncertainties that parents face when they're experiencing an induction; inductions can really take days. Once induction begins your progress will be closely monitored to determine the success of the induction method. 

Risks Associated with Inducing Labor

According to the March of Dimes, there are a series of risk factors associated with labor induction that parents should educate themselves on. With any medical procedure or birth preference, the best way to stay confident and in control is to open a line of communication with your doctor and care provider. Talk to your doctor about how your specific pregnancy and health may influence some of these risk factors or if you are at an elevated risk. 

If you're nearing the end of your pregnancy or your doctor is talking about induction, don't panic.

To actively reduce cesarean birth rates, your doctor will recommend the plan of action that is in the best interest of you and your baby's health at your comfort level. If it becomes safer for you to be induced, don't hesitate to discuss your options, risks associated and the methods involved with your potential induction. 

Your birth team's main goal is to always bring your baby to your arms as swift, safe and comfortable as possible.