Listen, I get it: being in your third trimester is hard enough -- now you have to be overly pregnant (and you're over being pregnant) on Thanksgiving. It pretty much sucks. And I'm sorry.
If you're considering scheduling an induction because you're due on or near a major holiday, like Thanksgiving, please learn as much as you can about induction to ensure you make the best decision for you and your baby.
First off, induction may not be exactly what you think it is. You may be thinking, "Finally, I'm having this baby! And now I know the date!" It's true that scheduling an induction allows you to feel like you have more control over your birth. The reality, however, is that many people feel anything but "in control" during an induction.
Induction means artificially starting your labor, so it is a very medicalized process requiring several interventions, often including but not limited to continuous electronic fetal monitoring, IV, medication inserted vaginally, and epidural (often needed, due to the extra intensity of contractions during induction). Also, since induction means starting your labor before your body started on its own, the process of labor and birth can take longer because your body may not have been ready to go into labor. It's not uncommon for an induction to "fail," meaning that it results in a cesarean because the induction was not "successful" at helping you fully dilate. That said, if the induction doesn't "take," you do have the choice to come back and try it again on another day, depending on you and your baby's health and if your water has broken.
Here are the most important things you should know about induction:
- Additional medical interventions (IV, pain medication, Pitocin, continuous fetal monitoring, restricted movement)
- Stress on baby
- Increase in risk of cesarean
- Increase in risk of premature birth (your due date is an estimate; you could be giving birth too early)
- Increase in risk of needing NICU stay
- Potentially (extra) long labor
- Increased pain from contractions when Pitocin is used
- Higher medical bills
If you're not having an induction for a true medical reason, are the risks are drawbacks worth it to you? A medical reason for induction means that you have a medical reason that makes it safer for your to have your baby now than waiting to go into labor on your own. Medical reasons for induction include:
- You’re showing few signs of labor by 42 confirmed weeks of pregnancy
- You have a medical disease that isn't responding to treatment and causing unsafe conditions for pregnancy
- You have certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure and too much protein in the urine (a condition known as preeclampsia)
- Your labor isn’t starting on it’s own after your water breaks and you have a Group B Strep positive culture
- You have a uterine infection
- Your baby’s growth has been slow for their age
If you have any one of these issues, induction is a sound decision to make for you and your baby.
It's understandable that the option to get induced before Thanksgiving sounds appealing. In fact, the rate of inductions before a major holiday notoriously skyrockets across hospitals in the United States. But it's important to consider if the risks and drawbacks of induction outweigh the potential benefits. If the driving decision to schedule induction before Thanksgiving (or any major holiday) is so that you can avoid the possibility of going into labor on the holiday (ie, so you won't miss out), consider that when you are postpartum with a newborn, you will still "miss out" on a lot of typical holiday stuff, since your attention and focus will be on recovery and caring for your baby -- and SLEEP. Getting induced comes with a lot of extras that you don't have when you let labor begin on its own. Learn the facts and think about your options before making the decision to induce.
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