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Induction: What is it? What are the Pros & Cons? Should I be induced during my Pregnancy?

Almost every mother who is planning on laboring in the hospital will be asked about induction. So, what is induction? Why is it necessary or not? What are the pros and cons of being induced?

Sarasota pregnant woman learning about induction and if it's right for her.

What is medical induction?

Medical induction refers to the process of artificially initiating labor in a pregnant woman. Typically induction is brought up when a woman is approaching or has passed her due date. This is done with medication or other medical methods to help stimulate contractions and trigger the onset of labor.

There are mandatory and elective inductions. Mandatory medical inductions are typically recommended in cases where it is deemed necessary for the health of the mother or baby, such as when the mother has a medical condition that could cause complications during delivery or when the baby is not growing properly. Elective inductions are when a mother is given the option to start labor early, though there are no medical reasons for needing it. These inductions will range from 37-40 weeks.

How is Someone Medically Induced?

There are many options an OB can choose from to induce. The most common methods are Cervadil, Cytotec, Pitocin, and a Foley Bulb.

What is Cervadil?

Cervadil is a medication used to prepare the cervix for childbirth. The active ingredient in Cervadil is Dinoprostone, which is a synthetic form of prostaglandin, a hormone naturally produced by the body. Cervadil is a vaginal insert that is placed near the cervix and left in place for up to 12 hours. It works by softening and thinning the cervix, making it easier for the baby to pass through during delivery. Cervadil is typically used when the cervix is not yet ready for labor to begin, but induction of labor is necessary for medical reasons. The Pros of Cervadil are mothers can receive the insert while in the doctor’s office and go home to rest until labor has begun. The cons are it is the least likely to work amongst the induction options. Most cases the mother will receive Cervadil and later need Pitocin as well.

What is Cytotec?

Cytotec, also known as Misoprostol, is a medication primarily used to prevent stomach ulcers in people who take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. In addition to its use in preventing stomach ulcers, Cytotec is also used for inducing labor, terminating pregnancy, and treating postpartum bleeding.

Cytotec, though commonly used for labor, has not been approved by the FDA for this purpose. Despite the fact that the FDA and the manufacturers of Cytotec have both issued warnings against off-label use of this drug, many doctors still prescribe Cytotec to induce labor. They do this because Cytotec can ripen (thin) the cervix and produce contractions. However, it can also result in permanent harm to both the mother and baby. Sadly, once Cytotec is inserted into the mother’s vagina, it will get absorbed into her bloodstream and cannot be taken away, unlike Cervadil and Pitocin.

What is Pitocin?

Pitocin, also known as synthetic Oxytocin, is a hormone that mimics Oxytocin that is naturally produced in the human body by the pituitary gland. Oxytocin plays a vital role in various physiological processes, including uterine contractions during childbirth and lactation.

Pitocin is often administered to pregnant women to induce or strengthen labor, especially if it is not progressing as expected. It works by stimulating the uterus to contract, which can help move the baby down the birth canal. Pitocin is typically administered through an IV, and its dosage is carefully monitored to avoid potential side effects, such as hyperstimulation of the uterus, which can lead to fetal distress.

What is a Foley Bulb?

A Foley bulb, also known as a cervical ripening balloon, is a medical device inserted into the cervix and then filled with sterile water. The pressure from the balloon helps to ripen the cervix and stimulate contractions, which can lead to the onset of labor.

The Foley bulb is typically used in combination with other methods of induction, such as the use of Pitocin. The device is generally safe and effective, but it does carry some risks, such as infection, bleeding, and uterine rupture.

What are the pros of medical induction?

There are several reasons why a medical induction may be necessary, including safety concerns for the mother or baby or if the pregnancy has gone past the due date. Some of the benefits of a medical induction include:

1. Control over timing: With medical induction, doctors can control when labor begins, which can be important if there are concerns about the health of the mother or baby. They can also schedule the induction at a convenient time for the mother or family.

2. Reduced risk of complications: If a pregnancy has gone past the due date, there is an increased risk of complications such as stillbirth. Inducing labor can help reduce this risk.

3. Reducing weeks of pregnancy: Medical induction can be set weeks prior to a woman’s natural induction day, which can be beneficial if there are concerns about the health of the mother or baby, such as needing the baby out of the womb for NICU care.

What are the risks of medical induction?

Medical induction is a procedure used to artificially start labor when a woman's body is not doing so naturally. While it is a common procedure, there are still some risks associated with it. One of the most common risks is that it may lead to a longer and more painful labor, which can result in the need for additional pain relief and interventions during delivery. Additionally, medical induction may increase the risk of infection, bleeding, and fetal distress, which can be dangerous for both the mother and the baby. increasing the risk of a Cesarean. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of medical induction with your healthcare provider to determine if it is the right choice for you and your baby.

How do doulas feel about induction?

Doulas are trained birth companions who provide emotional and physical support to expecting mothers. Doulas have varying opinions about induction. Some doulas are supportive of induction when it is medically necessary for the health and safety of the mother and baby. However, many doulas prefer to support natural childbirth and advocate for minimal intervention unless it is absolutely necessary.

Induction is a medical procedure that involves artificially beginning labor using medication or other methods. Some women require induction due to medical conditions such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, while others may choose induction for personal reasons such as convenience. However, induction can increase the risk of complications such as fetal distress, uterine rupture, and increased pain and discomfort for the mother.

Ultimately, the decision to induce labor is a personal one that should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider. Doulas can provide support and education to help women make informed decisions about their birth plans, whether they choose to undergo induction or pursue natural childbirth.

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