Induced Labor: What Is It and When Is It Recommended?

Induced Labor: What Is It and When Is It Recommended?

Last update: 30 June, 2018

Induced labor is more common than you might think. Many women have this experience, so here we’ll provide information on what it is and when it’s recommended.

First of all, if you’re pregnant then you’ve probably wondered, can I refuse to have induced labor? Does it hurt more? Is it harder to recover from? Keep reading to find the answer to all these questions.

The myths and facts about induced labor can often lead to misunderstandings. A spontaneous delivery is always better, but sometimes inducing labor is necessary to avoid complications for you or your baby.

When nature has you on pause, medical advances take over to start the important process of helping your baby to be born.

Induced labor is a procedure using medication which induces contractions. Contractions dilate the birth canal and help the baby pass through it.

Induced Labor: What Is It and When Is It Recommended?

Whether it applies to your pregnancy or not, we’ll tell you what induced labor is, when it’s recommended, and how it’s different from spontaneous labor.

What is Induced Labor? Steps to Follow

The first thing to do is verify that the sac the baby is in is broken. One of the ways to initiate the process can be breaking the amniotic sac. The baby’s head can then descend through the birth canal and exert pressure on itself.

They’ll also look at the state of your cervix. If it’s dilated, it will give you intravenous oxytocin. They will increase the dose until they achieve regular contractions, just like what would occur during non-induced labor.

If the cervix isn’t dilated, they’ll need to use prostaglandins, which are administered vaginally and which help it soften and dilate. Next, if you’re still not having contractions, they’ll move on to oxytocin.

Once they achieve the necessary dilation, they proceed with the same protocol as in a spontaneous delivery.

The main reason to have induced labor is to allow the baby to be born in a case when there is concern that a natural birth will be dangerous.

It is often necessary to induce labor to avoid possible complications for both mother and baby.

There are various causes that can lead to this decision:

  • If you have a prolonged pregnancy.
  • If the amniotic sac breaks but there are no contractions.
  • If there is a possible infection in the amniotic fluid.
  • If the placenta may be detached.
  • Fetal distress.
  • If the mother suffers from a chronic disease of some kind, such as diabetes, kidney problems, or lung disease.

Your doctor will warn you about the possibility of inducing labor and the advantages and risks associated with it.

Induced Labor: What Is It and When Is It Recommended?

Natural Labor vs. Induced Labor

Many women are afraid of induced labor because they think it might cause more complications for them or the baby than a natural delivery. However, many of these ideas don’t have any real basis in fact.

  • Induced labor starts the process, but doesn’t control it. Once you’re in labor you can freely decide if you want an epidural and experience delivery exactly like other women do.
  • It’s true that intravenous oxytocin can make your contractions more painful. This leads many women to opt for an epidural.
  • Some say that episiotomies are more common in planned deliveries, but that’s not actually true. The number of cuts shouldn’t increase due to having induced labor. 
  • One of the risks of induced labor is that the baby won’t lower into the birth canal. This situation can lead to fetal distress. In this case, your medical team will probably choose to finish the process with a cesarean, in order to ensure the well-being of mother and baby.  

Finally, you should remember that the medical team will be by your side the whole time to help you. Ask them about anything you’re worried about.

And remember, if induced or planned labor happens without complications, the recovery will be similar to a natural delivery.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.