“So how would you like to have your baby today?”
That’s the temptation many caregivers dangle in front of their 38-week plus pregnant moms, an enticing offer when mom is feeling huge, isn’t sleeping well, and has been saying for weeks that she “wants this baby out!”
But an elective labor induction, one that is done for convenience rather than for a medical condition, is a serious decision that has potential downsides for mother and baby. If faced with the option of being induced, every mother ought to ask herself and her caregiver these three questions before she says, “yes, I want to have my baby today.”
- What’s my bishop score? A study by the Intermountain Health Care Agency of Utah found that women who were induced with a low Bishop Score — in other words, whose bodies weren’t ready for labor — had up to a 50% chance of a cesarean birth. By contrast, women who had a high Bishop Score — those whose bodies DID show signs of labor readiness, including a ripe cervix and baby in a good place, had almost a 0% chance of having a cesarean after being induced.
- Do I want to be confined to bed during labor? The manufacturer of Pitocin, a common labor-inducing medication, requires continuous fetal monitoring for women who are induced with an IV of Pitocin. That means mom’s range of movement is on and around the bed.
- Does inducing always end in a vaginally birth? Not always, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Sometimes inducing leads to another induction method or to a cesarean birth. ACOG also says that first-time moms who are induced are at greater risk for having a cesarean, especially if their cervix is not ready for labor.
The best way to reduce the need for secondary interventions is to leave the labor induction only for those times when it is medically necessary, and if mom and baby are healthy, to allow labor to start on its own when the body and the baby are ready.