The Risks of Induction
It's really common for a medical provider to explain the risks of NOT being induced, but they often do not tell patients of the actual risks of induction itself. I wanted to write a blog post about this after sharing some thoughts on Instagram. I was met with so many "THANK YOUs" from folks who had been induced and were not familiar with what they were signing up for, even if it did go really well.
More often than not, I hear of folks being encouraged or even worse, coerced into induction, and they have no idea what they're singing up for (unless they have a doula). Are all inductions a ticket to a long road? Absolutely not. Are all induction traumatic? Nope. I've had induced labors go "better" and quicker than spontaneous labors. Would I say one is better than the other? Actually yes. In my own experience, I see spontaneous labors ending in more positive birth stories.
A lot of times everything is clouded with "healthy baby, healthy mom". That should be a given. We all want that. What matters as well is HOW are we getting to healthy mom, healthy baby? And is it the mother reporting happiness at the end, or is that being projected onto her? Does healthy mom take into account her mental health, too?
I digress. Let's move on to what the point of this blog post is actually about- the risks of induction. This isn't being made to put induction in a negative light. For a TRUE medical indication, an induction is a way for someone to have a vaginal birth. Just with anything, risks are as real as pros.
Failed induction. 25 percent of inductions will result in a failed induction. Meaning, the induction ended in a cesarean birth.
Infection. Part of an induction can involve breaking the bag of waters artificially, which can cause infection due to the fact that cervical checks are higher in inductions.
Increased bleeding. Increased bleeding can be a side effect of prolonged Pitocin use. Pitcoin is the fake form of oxytocin. Overuse of Pitocin can cause what we called a tired or lazy uterus. After the birth, the risk of hemorrhage is higher if the uterus is tired and cannot contract out the placenta effectively.
THE BIGGEST RISK I SEE. Increased need for pain medication at an early labor stage. The drugs used in an induction are intense. They are replicating the bodies natural ability to go into labor. So, while your body knows how to labor, it's like labor on steroids. That being said, labor pains can be a lot higher than they would be without something like Cytotec, foley bubls, Cervidil, pitocin, etc. I often see folks reaching for pain medication or an epidural sooner in labor when they're being induced because the pain gets so intense so quickly. Why is this a problem? When someone gets pain medication or an epidural, they must stay in the bed. Being confined to the bed restricts movement. Being upright and mobile is an evidence based way to stay comfortable and to help labor progress. If someone gets pain medication (either IV meds or an epidural) and they're at a early labor dilation (meaning, before 5 cm) and baby is at a high station we see more inductions resulting in a "failure to progress" due to "big baby" or "inadequate pelvis". When in reality- that's not always true. They laboring person just couldn't move about. So their cervix stopped dilating, and baby didn't descend down- which also prohibits dilation.
Fetal distress. Pitocin, the fake form of oxytocin, is used to create labor contractions. It's an intense drug! Pitocin contractions are really intense. Pitocin can cause fetal distress due to the fact it can cause contractions to become TOO close together. When the uterus doesn't get a long enough break to relax and recover, the fetus in return becomes distressed. A distressed fetus can be seen in the form of heart decels. (Deceleration...when their heart rate plumpets/drops far below a safe line). Fetal decels in labor ARE normal, to a degree. They are normal in the sense that if a baby has a decel during a contraction, which is most common, we see the heart rate come right back to normal range when the contraction is over because they get a good break.
Hemorrhage. When the uterus is working as hard as it is mentioned above, it becomes lazy. After the birth, hemorrhage can happen due to the fact the uterus isn't able to contract well enough, thus resulting in excessive bleeding.
Newborn Jaundice. Jaundice is commonly seen in babys who are born before they were ready to be. The liver needs to be mature enough to break down red blood cells. When this isn't able to happen, we see jaundice. While jaundice is common and very treatable, it will tack on a few extra days to a hospital stay.