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Generally, the practitioners aim to carry pregnancies to term, or in other words, until the 39th week of pregnancy. This also means that there is no need for inducing electively until then. However, there are cases or situations that may arise where labor just needs a little nudge to get cracking. This is where the steps below will help you with inducing labor for a healthy and safe birth. But why is it needed? Read below to understand better.
What does labor induction mean and why does a health care provider induce it ?
In cases where the health of the baby or the mother is at risk or if your pregnancy is at its post-term or as perhaps reached 39 weeks or the 42nd week and you’re close to the due date, your health care provider will determine the need to induce labor contraction via medications or other methods. Here are a few reasons why the health care provider might induce labor:
1) Your pregnancy is overdue
In cases of absence of any movement in the uterus around the 42nd week, the doctor may opt for inducing labor for the betterment of the health of both, the mother and baby.
2) There might be a presence of a complication
In conditions where women suffer from like preeclampsia, diabetes, gestational diabetes, or problems with the placenta or with low levels of amniotic fluid, there is an added danger of continuing pregnancy.
3) There is a rupture in the membranes
If women do not complain of labor even after the water has broken within 24 hours. The doctor will induce labor.
4) The baby isn’t thriving
If the baby is mature enough and can be delivered. The practitioner would go ahead with labor induction in the hospital or birthing center.
Inducing labor - How does it work?
The steps below read how you are induced, however, you might not do through them all.
In general cases, the cervix is said to open on its own once ready for labor. However, if there is no sign of the cervix dilating and effacing that allows the baby to move out of the uterus and enter the birth canal, the doctor would need to get the ripening rolling.
This is done by applying a hormone prostaglandin (either a gel or a vaginal suppository) to your cervix. In some time, the cervix will be checked to know if you’re ready for labor and contractions.
Just in case the prostaglandin is ripening the cervix but the contractions haven’t started, the process continues. Also, if in the past you have had a C-section or uterine surgery, you won’t be given prostaglandin. Here, the doctor will use a mechanical agent instead, to ripen the cervix like a catheter.
If the amniotic sac in the woman is still intact, the doctor may get labor by swiping their finger across the membranes connecting the amniotic sac. This helps the uterus release prostaglandin just like when labor and delivery take place naturally. It causes the cervix to soften and the contractions to begin. The process allows water breaking and isn’t always pain-free.
Rupturing the membrane
The water isn’t broken if the cervix has already begun to dilate and efface on its own. In this case, the doctor might jump-start the contractions via the artificial rupturing of the membranes to avoid any health problems. For a better understanding, the doctor will perhaps break the water manually through an instrument. The process will look a bit uncomfortable but shouldn’t be painful and low-risk.
If neither of the processes has successfully got regular contractions within a couple of hours, the doctor would provide you with Pitocin. It is a synthetic form of the natural hormone oxytocin through an IV to induce labor that usually starts about 30 minutes later.
Top 8 natural ways to induce labor
Most of the processes above are anecdotal with no solid evidence. Therefore, consider consulting the doctor before attempting either. He/she/they will let you know if it’s safe to try keeping in mind your pregnancy.
Exercise could include anything that helps increase the heart rate, it may include a simple walk. Even if the method doesn’t work, it is a good way to relieve stress, keeping the body strong.
Theoretically, having sex, especially while an orgasm the body releases oxytocin that helps with contractions. There are prostaglandin hormones in the semen that help ripen the cervix. Do not work, having sex in the final weeks of pregnancy is completely safe, but you shouldn’t have sex after the water has broken as it may then risk an infection.
Stimulating nipples may cause your uterus to contract which may in return bring labor. It also stimulates the production of oxytocin that causes the uterus to contract and the breast to eject milk.
Tip – If women breastfeed the baby right after delivery, the same stimulation takes place that helps the uterus to shrink back to its original size. Stimulating your nipples yourself, by your partner, or using a pump can be an effective way to:
- Induce and augment labor
- Avoid a medical induction of labor
- Reduce the rates of postpartum hemorrhage
This method has been used by women for thousands of years. According to Chinese medicine, acupuncture balances the vital energy in the body. l and also stimulate the changes in the hormones or the nervous system. However, make sure the administration is only done by a licensed acupuncturist.
Most practitioners believe acupressure helps start labor. But even before you apply for acupressure it is of utmost importance to have clear and proper instruction only from trained acupressure professionals. Also, irrespective of whether it induces labor or not, it can help alleviate pain and discomfort during labor.
Consuming only a little, about 1–2 ounces which equals 29.57–59.14 ml, helps stimulate the releases of prostaglandin that help ripen the cervix and induce labor. Make sure it is done under the supervision of a doctor and avoid drinking too much.
Studies have shown that eating dates during the final weeks of pregnancy helps increases the ripening of the cervical and cervical dilation and also decreases the need for Pitocin while in labor.
Red raspberry leaf tea
The red raspberry leaf tea tones and strengthens the uterus while preparing for labor. It also helps you stay hydrated.
Disclaimer: Except for exercise and sex, none of the above-mentioned are endorsed by medical professionals or studies.
What happens if you wait for the baby until the 40th week of childbirth?
There are plenty of perks of waiting till the due date until your body naturally decides to go into labor, even if it is the 40th week.
Expecting moms who are not induced tend to recover faster compared to those who weren’t which also means going home sooner. And, any baby born after a full-term pregnancy experience the following benefits that means:
- More time to build muscle and strength
- Reduces the risk of low blood sugar, infection, and jaundice
- Improved breathing
- Better feeding
- Brain development grows a third of its size between the 35th and 40th week
Note – Rest in these times is crucial.
That’s all pals! This is all about everything you would need to know about inducing labor. While you’re preparing for your D-Day, are you sure you have packed everything required? You might as well just have a quick checklist to be double-sure. Don’t worry, Parenthood bliss has prepared a link for you to go through. Click here and start right away!
Before trying any method to help induce labor, consult your doctor about any risks that may occur or complications. Most of these methods are included in the folklore, popular amongst expecting moms with little scientific evidence supporting their efficacy. However, the best way is to let the baby set their own birth date, even if it means waiting for a few weeks more.