At what stage of pregnancy do we consider an induced labour?
Suffice it to say clinicians don’t just induce labour at anytime. The safest and best cocoon for your baby to grow in, is in your stomach.
Our midwife (Donna) and Dr. Anneleise (Obstetrician/Gynaecologist) discuss what is considered full term and at what stage they might consider inducing labour for a pregnant mother.
Suffice it to say, we can put to bed the question – am I being induced because my doctor is going on holidays? And also, can I choose to be induced even though there is no good medical reason for it?
Donna: Well we are still not 100% sure if the woman’s body decides or the baby decides to come but that can be anytime from 37 weeks. So 37 weeks is what we would consider a term baby. So lots of people go ‘oh, it was three weeks early’ and you’re like actually that’s a fine time to have a baby that’s not too early at all you know. 36 weeks then we in the medical field would say ‘oh that’s a little bit early’ but some babies are perfectly happy to be born at that stage.
Anneleise: They usually would do quite well.
Donna: And obviously anytime from 32 weeks, (in an abnormal area), some babies decide that they’d like to come. But that’s when you would absolutely be getting support and assistance from a medical team because that baby generally should still be in the tummy.
And if we were talking inductions, you know, 32-34 weeks, there would be a very good reason for that.
Donna: Not because you were sick of being pregnant or because your doctor was going on holiday. Things like that don’t come into play at all.
The top reasons for inducing labour
In this video, Donna and Dr Anneleise discuss the main reasons why they would consider inducing labour.
They discuss all the different risk factors and variables which are taken into account, before deciding which is the safest pathway forward for the mother and baby.
Anneleise: And sometimes we do plan things like inductions if we are concerned that the risk of continuing the pregnancy is higher than the risk of induction. So that might be for either the mother or the baby. So if there are medical complications, for example, hypertension, high blood pressure or diabetes, if the baby is growth restricted, they’re reasons why we might actually recommend that induction happens around term rather than just waiting for things to happen because it’s sometimes safer to deliver those babies.
Donna: They’re better out than in.
Anneleise: At around 39 weeks.
How is labour induced?
Right, so your clinicians have determined you need to have an induced labour. But what does the process of induced labour look like? How long will it take? Are their stronger contractions and does it cause more damage.
All these questions and more Donna and Anneleise discuss, to ensure you are kept informed through every step of induced labour journey.
Anneleise: So I guess in terms of induction of labour, I’ll talk about that and then we can maybe talk about the normal process which is what the majority of women do. But in the induction of labour, it depends a little on how prepared the body is for labour.
So we usually will do an assessment and if the cervix is still closed then we need to do things to prepare the body for labour. So that’s generally called ‘ripening of the cervix’ and there are a number of different methods which might be suitable for different people in different situations and the types of methods that we use.
Sometimes we use a balloon catheter in the cervix to put pressure. Sometimes we use prostaglandin in the form of gels or a wafer that goes into the vagina to try and soften things up. Once that process has happened that takes time, oftentimes done overnight.
Then the idea is that if the cervix has opened up enough, we can break the waters. This is called ‘Artificial Rupture of the Membrane’ or ARM. These are things that we might throw around a little bit.
And once we’ve actually got the waters broken, that’s when we can actually do the labour. And so that’s when we’re using the oxytocin drip to make the contractions start to happen. And that’s, that’s a very individualized process. Where we start off with a very low dose and gradually build it up until we get a woman contracting well. And also monitoring the baby during that time to make sure that she’s not contracting too much and the baby’s not getting distressed.
So that’s sort of the reason or the way we go about induction.
When labour is induced, does it make it more likely you will have a caesarean?
There are a few fears and concerns associated with inducing labour. Dr Anneleise discusses with Donna a few of the common questions that she gets from pregnant parents.
Anneleise: I think one of the common things that women are worried about, is that induction is going to increase my chances of cesarean section. And that’s something that I see a lot of women concerned about. And I think that we now have some really, really good information to support the fact that induction of labour actually does not increase your risk of cesarean section.
It may increase the chance of you wanting to have an epidural. Some people do find the labour more intense because we’re moving on and progressing it much more quickly than a spontaneous labour where you walk around the house for several hours beforehand. And it does increase the chance of us needing to do an assisted vaginal delivery if you got an epidural and your block is very dense or all those sorts of things and you can’t push as well as what we would like to.
But it doesn’t increase your chance of Caesarean sections. And we don’t recommend inductions of labor if we think that there’s no good reason for it. There’s always the risk of continuing the pregnancy is something that we worry about, and so that’s when we might talk about those sorts of things.
But fortunately, the majority of women can have a normal labour, have a normal pregnancy and we can do things the routine way, which is easier.
What about after the induction, when you have you beautiful newborn?
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Disclaimer: This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information provided on this website is not intended to diagnose or prescribe. In all health-related matters we recommend consulting with your local healthcare professional