The Basics Of Labor Induction
As your due date draws near, you'll likely be at the point where you count the days, hours, and minutes to when you are finally able to say hello to your newborn. The fear of labor pains are dwarfed by the desire to have your baby and at long last get some relief for your aching back or tired body. But in some cases, your baby is just too stubborn and it refuses to be born. In these cases, labor induction may be required.
Labor induction is just what its name suggests – a process where labor is induced through various means. Generally, it's used when there are issues at hand that place a mother or baby's health at risk. These could include the following:
• Water breaks, but labor doesn't begin soon after. When the water breaks, the chance of uterine infection rises. Unless you're premature, inducing labor will usually occur.
• Your due date has long since passed. In most cases doctors won't wait beyond one or two weeks after the due date due to the increasing risks that waiting longer will place on your baby and on you.
• Preeclampsia could develop and restrict blood flow to the baby while also putting the mother at risk. If this occurs, labor may be induced.
• If serious illness occurs that places the mother or the baby at risk, such as high blood pressure or kidney disease, induction may occur.
• If tests show that a baby isn't growing properly or if amniotic fluid levels are low, the labor may be induced.
• Certain other issues like living far from the hospital. If you leave hours from a hospital, for example, a doctor may schedule an induction to ensure that you are able to deliver in a safe setting instead of struggling to reach them in time.
In recent years the number of induced labors has more than doubled, and around 1 in every 5 labors is induced. Doctors use a number of different methods to induce labor, depending on the situation.
The most common is the use of a drug known as Pitocin. This compound helps to start or strengthen contractions. Another compound doctors may use is known as a prostaglandin. This will help to ripen the cervix and jump-start contractions, giving you the kind of results that you need for starting labor.
Manual manipulation of your membranes can help, too. It's often called 'stripping' or 'sweeping' the membranes, and is basically the act of using a finger to separate the amniotic sac from the uterus. This will cause the body to natural release the prostaglandins needed to start labor. And another option is to rupture the membranes outright. Essentially, it's the act of making the water break by using a small hooked tool. The amniotic sac is ruptured, breaking your water and starting the labor.
While doctors will want to wait until you're at least 39 weeks or beyond to induce your labor, impatient women have often found ways to speed things up themselves. These home remedies can often start labor if you're at or very near your due date. Of course, you won't want to try them if you are far away from your due date in order to keep your baby safe, but if your due date was yesterday and you can't wait any longer, trying the following could help.
• Walk – The act of walking will help stimulate your labor in many cases. The pressure of the baby pressing down on your cervix, combined with the mild bouncing that your steps create, could help start things. Walking up stairs or uphill could be even more effective.
• Garlic – Eating lots of garlic can often help trigger your contractions. While you may not be able to handle garlic all on its own, the fact is that garlic has been linked to inducing labor.
• Castor Oil – This is one that seems to work for some and not for others, but could be worth a try. A couple of tablespoons of the stuff may give you some results.
• Raspberry Leaf Tea – Raspberry leaf may be able to help you start having contractions, and in many instances it can help to ease the pain that comes with labor.
• Sex – Simply put, sex can often help motivate a baby to be born. It sounds silly, but many women have reported that their labor began shortly after a round of vigorous sexual activity. At any rate, it's worth a try!
If you're getting near the end of your pregnancy, taking a closer look at labor induction is a good idea. Whether you're trying to figure out how to jump start your contractions or just want to learn more about what the doctor is going to do at your scheduled induction next week, the above points should help clear things up and give you a solid idea of what to expect.
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Photo credit: Jason Lander / Foter / CC BY