Fa La La La La…
39 weeks: that “magical” week of pregnancy when things are supposed to start happening. It feels like the pressure for labor to begin is coming at you from every angle.
Your provider starts to mention induction at your 39 week appointment.
Aunt Betty texts you every day for updates.
Mom reminds you that she scheduled her c-section at 39 weeks because she was so swollen and exhausted.
The list goes on…
Over the past several decades we’ve seen a steady rise in inductions. Today, a whopping 45% of pregnancies are now being induced in the U.S. (Dahlen, et al). Odds are you personally have a friend or family member that had an induction, or maybe you yourself were induced in a previous pregnancy.
However, approaching your due date isn’t the only reason for scheduling an induction in the U.S. If you look at the data, the number of inductions skyrockets in the weeks leading up to a major holiday.
Just look at the stats! The least number of births happen on:
followed by January 1st,
then December 24th,
then July 4th.
So it’s no surprise that the number of births increase dramatically in the days leading up to Christmas and other holidays.
“In a world of scheduled c-sections and inductions, doctors and delivery staff prefer to be home with their families on the big holidays than helping expand someone else’s families.” (Zippia)
Of course your doctor might not say, “Let’s schedule your induction, I want to be home with my family on Christmas Eve…” But they may say:
- “Your baby looks a little big.”
- “Your pelvis looks a little small.”
- “Your waters are a little low.”
- “We don’t want your placenta to fail.”
- And the disturbing but ever-popular: “You’re baby could die.”
Here’s what most docs DON’T tell you about inductions:
- Inductions increase your risk of cesarean by 30%. If you are a FTM it increases by 50%! (Dahlen 2021, et al)
- You are more likely to have a baby born distressed or with vacuum assistance. (Dahlen 2021, et al)
- Inductions can take 3+ days, or not work at all!
- It changes the physiology of labor (Pitocin induced contractions do not block labor pain the way oxytocin does).
- Pitocin increases the risk of uterine rupture, fetal distress, NICU stays, tearing and more.
- Induction drugs like Pitocin are not approved by the FDA for routine labor induction – they are used off-label.
Are Inductions Improving Outcomes?
Despite the sharp increase in inductions over the last several decades (Little, 2017), we have not seen any improvement in neonatal death rates, assisted deliveries, maternal death rates (which have actually risen), NICU stays, or infection rates.
As you can imagine, the over-medicalization of birth and increase in inductions is not improving the safety of birth for moms or babies.
What if I’m Overdue?
Interestingly, studies have shown that 8 days late is actually the average for FTMs. So, what if you’re actually not “late” at all, but rather, “right on time”?
Nearing or even passing your “due date” is not a medical reason for induction. It’s a good idea to talk with your provider early on in pregnancy about their reasons for induction. If your due date is near a holiday, be sure to discuss your plans to avoid induction (unless medically necessary) with your provider.
Your doctor is not giving you true informed consent IF:
- He/she only informed you of what could happen if you DON’T get an induction but not the risks of induction itself.
- You feel pressured, coerced, or threatened into an induction.
- He/she made the decision for you.
You cannot give true INFORMED CONSENT if you are not INFORMED of all your options as well as the risks and benefits.
When Is Medical Intervention Necessary?
There are situations when induction may be worth the risks for you. Conditions such as Pre-eclampsia, Eclampsia, decreased (or increased) fetal movement, uncontrolled high blood sugar levels, consistently high blood pressure, and other specific medical conditions can warrant medical intervention.
It’s not black and white. Every body and baby is different. Even some conditions like pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes can be managed or avoided with proper diet. It’s important to understand your personal risks and get educated to make the decision that’s right for you.
Tips for going past your due date:
- Cultivate an attitude of peace and contentment throughout pregnancy.
- Practice letting go (Harness your inner Elsa 😉).
- Have a dance party!
- Take a warm bath.
- Trust your baby’s perfect timing and your body’s innate birthing wisdom.
The presence of stress and anxiety releases adrenaline and cortisol which will PREVENT the release of oxytocin. If your body doesn’t feel “safe” it won’t begin labor. That’s right, all your mental energy trying to “get labor started” could actually be working AGAINST your body going into labor.
OK, Then What Starts Labor?
Actually, it’s your baby! A tiny hormone signal from your baby’s brain travels through the placenta, into your bloodstream and signals your brain to release prostaglandins (which soften the cervix) and oxytocin (which stimulates contractions). Your baby and your body are spiritually sensitive and wise, and can be trusted to know the perfect time to birth! It is a specific hormonal sequence that works best when left undisturbed.
The divine design is pretty amazing, isn’t it?
Don’t let the Great Holiday Induction Push derail your peaceful birth plans. Know your rights. Get informed. Trust your intuition. And remember, “No, thanks!” is a perfectly good, inarguable response.
The Pain Free Birth E-course has everything you need to be informed and equipped to stand in your power, including a full segment on “Avoiding Unnecessary Induction”. Learn more HERE.
For more information on inductions, visit:
*Disclaimer: this is not medical advice. Please discuss all medical concerns with your provider.
Zippia. “The Most (And Least) Common Birthdays In The US” Zippia.com. Jul. 17, 2022, https://www.zippia.com/advice/most-least-common-birthdays/
Dahlen, Hannah G., et al. “Rates of obstetric intervention and associated perinatal mortality and morbidity among low-risk women giving birth in private and public hospitals in NSW (2000–2008): a linked data population-based cohort study.” BMJ open 4.5 (2014): e004551.
Little, S. E. (2017). Elective Induction of Labor: What is the Impact? Obstet Gynecol Clin N Am 44; 601–614.
Declercq, Eugene R., et al. “Listening to mothersSM III.” New Mothers Speak Out 2013 (2013).