When Induction Becomes Necessary

Most physicians and midwives agree that letting nature take its course is the ideal way to deliver a baby. But about 15 to 20 percent of all deliveries are induced. High-risk pregnancy is the No. 1 indication leading to induction.

Since medical procedures often include some risk, women should ask their doctors or midwives about the reasons for induction. Common reasons include:

• Pre-eclampsia – The mother has dangerously high blood pressure.

• Diabetes – If the mother has diabetes, her placenta might deteriorate prematurely, and her baby might be oversized if carried to term.

• Intrauterine growth restriction – The baby isn’t growing at the expected rate.

• Decreased fetal movement – Later in the pregnancy, fetal activity is supposed to remain the same.

• Infection around the baby – An infection exists in the fluid surrounding the baby.

• Going beyond the due date – Due dates are often estimates. There shouldn’t be a concern if the baby is less than two weeks overdue.

• Convenience – Some women want to give birth on a day when their own physician is on call. Most health-care providers believe convenience should not be the sole reason for inducing labor.

What to Expect

The process of induction commonly involves the intravenous administration of pitocin or prostaglandin gel – drugs that stimulate the contraction of the uterus – or the artificial rupture of the membrane or bag of waters that surrounds the baby in the uterus. The medication is given during labor in gradually increasing doses until contractions begin. Pitocin-induced contractions may be stronger, longer and closer together than the contractions the body would normally produce on its own, but they can be regulated by adjusting the dose.