Labor is an intricate set of processes that are designed to end with birth. At times, the body is not ready to give birth when 40 weeks of gestation are complete. After 40 weeks, the viability of the placenta begins to fade and the baby may not receive the nutrients and oxygen needed to sustain healthy growth. If the time has come to give birth and the natural labor process has not begun, doctors can choose to induce labor in a variety of ways.
Labor induction and impact on stillbirth
Labor induction used to only take place when dealing with high-risk patients. The theory was that the benefit of early labor was only helpful when women with high-risk pregnancies or the baby might otherwise be harmed from continuing the pregnancy. However, several years ago, researchers found that inducing labor in low-risk pregnancies the week before the due date decreases cesarean section rates and prevent hypertensive issues without a negative effect on the baby. Now, a new study reports that over 800 stillbirths can be prevented in the U.S. via deliveries inductions the week before your due date. This information can help low-risk women make decisions on the benefits of early inductions.
What is hormone-based labor induction?
The most common form of labor induction involves hormones applied to the cervix or given intravenously. Typically, hormone creams are used as the first attempt at labor induction. These creams are applied to the cervix in an attempt to ripen the cervix and start labor. Hormone creams can take a week to effectively ripen the cervix.
What is intravenous hormone therapy?
If cervical ripening did not help the progression to labor, intravenous hormones like Oxytocin can be used. The body produces Oxytocin naturally, but doctors can push more of the hormone into the body to mimic labor. Pitocin is another medication commonly used to induce labor.
When should the water be broken?
The bag of water, or amniotic sac, that surrounds the baby in the uterus, is a protective barrier between life inside the womb and life on the outside. If the bag of water is broken, labor typically begins and progresses quickly. After the amniotic sac is broken, the baby is no longer protected and the risk of infection increases.
What if labor induction does not work?
If all methods of labor induction have failed, the baby will be born via C-section. This does not make mom less of a mother and protects the baby from infection and fetal distress that can occur during prolonged labor.