It’s a scary concept refusing something that the doctor is urging us to do. They’re the one with all the training, right? They’re the one we trust and rely on to do what’s best for us and our little ones. So, after nine long months of having faith in them that they are providing us with the best possible care, why on Earth would we suddenly jump to the conclusion that they have ulterior motives at play when it comes to induction or don’t know what they’re talking about? Because, sometimes it’s true.
Doctors are just human beings. They were trained in medicine, but when it comes to birth, they were not trained to support women in labor. They were trained to intervene and interfere with women in labor. Doctors do not spend their time in medical school taking care of women in uncomplicated pregnancies. Instead, they are hyper-focused on high risk cases. They are always looking for something to be wrong that they can step in to fix or prevent.
Enter, induction. It’s a great resource we have at our disposal — when we need it. The problem is that this resource has become exploited. We went from using it in only the most dire of situations to now employing it without much thought about whether or not it’s truly medically necessary.
The downside here is plentiful. Induction comes with major risks to both mom and baby, such as fetal distress, time spent in the NICU, uterine rupture, links to development disorders in babies whose mothers were given Pitocin, and more. Mothers need to be prepared to advocate for what is best for their individual circumstances. This means being armed with knowledge on what really warrants induction, and what is flat out bull.
14 Because The Baby Is 'Too Big'
This is a big one — pun intended. Doctors seem to love to scare pregnant mothers-to-be to death and make them worry that they’ll be split in two during delivery trying to birth their child. Some women buy into this theory because they’ve heard stories of babies being too big to birth. This is truly the epitome of rare, though, and most of the time those stories aren’t accurate. Complications can occur because of size, but not often enough that we need to prevent women from giving birth and going into labor on their own.
In addition, moms are often told that their baby is too big based on ultrasound measurements that estimate the size of the growing bub. This is what happened to Chelsea. Her doctor made it sound like the growth scans were necessary because her fundal height was measuring two weeks ahead consistently — something that doesn’t actually warrant any investigation. Baby measured close to 9 pounds at 38 weeks.
Chelsea consented to an induction out of fear. She knew that this being her first pregnancy, it was possible she would still be pregnant another month or more, and she couldn’t fathom birthing the 12-pound baby her doctor warned her of. Induction at 39 weeks didn’t take and Chelsea’s water had already been manually ruptured, so she ended up having a C-section. Her baby was 7 pounds and 3 ounces. She regrets her choice to induce to this day.
13 If The Risk Is Deemed 'Too High'
There are times when high blood pressure is risky, and there are times when it isn’t. The problem is that all doctors can’t seem to agree on where elevated blood pressure crosses the line into dangerous territory. Typically, high blood pressure is diagnosed if a mother’s reading is above 140/90. However, some women will remain borderline or have intermittent spikes in their BP that cause concern for doctors.
Sure, seeing a mother’s BP suddenly spike is worrisome, but it’s not so awful that we need to induce immediately without exploring the cause of said spike. When mom last ate and drank something matters. So does whether or not she exercised that morning before her appointment, and so forth.
Take Elizabeth as an example. She walked to her doctor’s appointment one morning. Her blood pressure was higher than normal, but still nowhere near the standard cutoff for high blood pressure. The doctor spoke of concern and ignored her explanation of having walked to his office. He was throwing out suggestions to induce since she was already post-date anyway, but she felt it was an excuse on his part to schedule her delivery on his time.
He insisted on a non-stress test, and she consented. The NST was fine, but the doctor wanted her to come back the next day to have her BP checked again, because she was balking at the idea of induction at all. She returned and her BP was back to normal. She can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened had she just stuck with her doctor’s recommendations.
12 If Labor 'Suddenly Stops'
Doctors adore this excuse to induce. Almost all of them use it at one time or another, if not regularly on as many patients as they can. As a society, we have been so far removed from what labor and birth truly look like that we no longer know. We don’t recognize that it can be completely normal to be in labor for days. We fail to see that dilation and effacement sometimes happen well in advance of labor, but other times don’t happen until the mother has been contracting for hours and hours.
Doctors are only doing more to discourage women from having faith in their body’s ability to give birth. Routine cervical checks are one of the most ridiculous concepts surrounding obstetrical care that there is. Unless there are possible complications amiss, pregnant women do not need a stranger’s hand up their hoo-ha irritating things and poking around in an effort to predict labor. Doctors are not psychics and cervixes are not crystal balls.
When Natasha was approaching her due date with her son, she didn’t know she could refuse cervical checks. In fact, friends and family had been asking if her cervix was dilated or thinned out at all yet. So, she was anxious and excited to find out. That is, until she found out she was tightly closed and not thinned at all. This was discouraging and made her feel like she may not go into labor without intervention. That’s just how the doctor wants you to feel when they start encouraging inducing.
They’ll do the same thing during labor. If mom’s water has broken, but she’s taking up that hospital bed longer than the administration likes to see, they will push Pitocin and other interventions to try to speed labor up and get the good doctor home in time for Law & Order. Natasha ended up going into labor on her own just three days later. Why? Because, again, the cervix is no indicator of when labor will occur. Some women walk around dilated to 4cm for a month and others are completely closed up until labor begins. How will it happen for you? It’s a surprise! Enjoy it!
11 If There's More Than One Baby In There
Believe it or not, when a mother is pregnant with multiples, she often considers herself lucky to even find a provider that isn’t trying to force a C-section on her at 35 weeks. The idea of being induced — even if it’s early — is appealing to a lot of parents of multiples.
The problem with this line of thinking is that it still isn’t what’s in the best interest of the babies or mom. Whenever left to labor naturally without intervention, that’s when we see the best birth outcomes per birth across all statistics.
When Jenna was pregnant with her twins, she was ecstatic to learn that a local obstetrician was on board with allowing her to have a vaginal birth. Looking back now, she realizes she never should’ve assumed anyone was allowing her to do or not do anything with her own body and babies. She was so excited for that vaginal birth of twins that she didn’t even pause to second-guess the doctor’s recommendation to induce early so they could have a full team of support staff on hand in case of problems that were more common with twins. At the time, it sounded like the doctor was concerned for the babies’ safety and wanted to be prepared. Jenna couldn’t argue with that, right?
So, she consented to an induction that hardly went as planned. Ultimately, Jenna ended up with a C-section. She can’t say for sure that it wouldn’t have been needed regardless, but hates that she will never know if her choice to induce early contributed to the eventual outcome of her birth experience.
10 When The Baby Is Breech
Ideally, we all want our babies to be in the left occiput anterior position long before labor starts up. It’s antagonizing knowing your little one isn’t cooperating and may not shift position in time for labor. What does that statement mean, though? In time for labor. Why is there a timeline? Breech babies are born vaginally all the time. There are safe ways for this to occur with the right providers, and with the right number of women rising up and demanding that doctors be better educated on the process. Maybe then we would see a change.
For now, most doctors will continue to push for induction when a baby is breech. I know, I know. It hardly makes sense. A breech baby should be given more time to encourage them to change position. But many doctors will insist that the longer baby is in utero, the bigger he or she is getting and therefore they wrongly assume the less likely he or she will be to turn.
When Angela was pregnant with her daughter, she felt very discouraged to find out at her 32-week appointment that her little one was breech. She had been looking forward to another beautiful, vaginal birth and it seemed to be slipping away. At her subsequent appointments, the baby was still breech and her doctor made sure to hammer it into her head that if she didn’t shift position, a C-section would be needed.
Week after week, Angela felt herself coming closer to a Cesarean and watched her dreams of a vaginal birth slip away. By 38 weeks, her doctor was encouraging induction in hopes that the contractions from labor would encourage the baby to spin around and go into the head-down position. Angela agreed. At 39 weeks, she was hooked up to Pitocin and labor was initiated. After several hours, contractions were steady and she was progressing.
By the time she was around 5 cm dilated, an ultrasound confirmed the baby had indeed turned. She was posterior, but head down and ready for a vaginal birth. Sadly, the Pitocin proved to be too much for this babe and she began to show signs of fetal distress. Angela ended up having an emergency C-section. If she has any regrets, it’s that she ignored her gut instinct from the beginning that told her her doctor was not practicing evidence-based care. Despite having gone on to have two wonderful vaginal births since, Angela will always wonder what would’ve happened had she not agreed to induce.
9 If The Doctor Isn’t In
This is far more common than most mommies think. Look, doctors are just people. They can’t work 365 days a year. They need time off too. That’s fine. We can all accept that. What we don’t want to accept is that our doctor is that doctor — the one that schedules their vacation during the week we are due. With any luck, you’ll be the mom that goes two weeks over and doc will be back and fully refreshed before your contractions kick in. But, until they’re back from Bermuda, you’ll be a nervous wreck wondering which on call doctor will deliver your baby if tonight’s the night.
There’s an easy way to confront this issue head-on. Ask well in advance if your doctor has any vacations or time off scheduled for the two weeks prior to and following your guess date. That’s just what Marianna did when she found out she was pregnant with her third son. During her pregnancy with her second, her doctor suddenly told her at her 36-week appointment that she was going to be off for two weeks. Marianna had trusted her doctor and felt safe with her. They’d gone over her birth plan in detail. She didn’t want some random stranger in the delivery room with her, but that’s what she got.
Marianna went into labor with her second child during her 37th week of pregnancy, and while he was healthy, she did not get the birth experience she had hoped for. She did tear, and wonders if that was because the doctor who was there to deliver her baby did not respect her wishes to go without coached pushing. During transition, she was berated for going against what the doctor was saying and the nurses were very condescending to her. In hindsight, she does credit her terrible hospital birth with baby number two for encouraging her to pursue a home birth with a midwife for her third baby. Her midwife was never more than twenty minutes away.
8 Just For Being Overdue
Truth be told, only 5 percent of women actually birth their babies on their estimated due dates. Did you catch that? Estimated. As in, not concrete, not in stone, not a given. It’s a random guess based on your last menstrual period and an ultrasound. Either way, it’s highly unlikely that you will give birth on that day. Going overdue can be particularly disheartening for first time mothers. They didn’t know how exhausting and daunting the end of pregnancy would be and they’re ready to meet their babies, dammit.
Sorry mommies, that’s still not a reason to force your little one out of the womb before they are fully developed. Doctors will often push for induction once a mother crosses her due date, implying that since it hasn’t happened on its own by now, it probably won’t. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
When Jenni was pregnant with her first baby, she had never really researched the side effects of induction or the reasons to say no to it. She was a scared first-time mother and wanted to do what was best for her baby. If the doctor was saying induction was best, who was she to question him? So, she went along with it. Despite inducing on her due date, she delivered the next day. Her son was just shy of six pounds and struggled with a poor Apgar score and some trouble breathing. He spent two days in the NICU, too.
Although there were no issues immediately after they left the hospital, he was diagnosed with autism by the time he was three, and she can’t help but question whether Pitocin played a role. Research has linked the two. Jenni believes her due date was inaccurate. She doesn’t think she was actually 40 weeks along when induced, and thinks this may have contributed to her son’s struggle starting out. Lesson learned. Due dates are just guesses; they can be wrong. Don’t induce based on a guess.
7 If Mom Has Diabetes
It is said that as many as 9.2 percent of pregnant women in the United States are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This form of diabetes onsets during pregnancy and typically resolves after birth, although some women will go on to develop diabetes outside of pregnancy. Most of the time, this prenatal condition can be controlled through diet. When it can’t, drugs are available to intervene.
There is rarely a reason to induce a woman with gestational diabetes. Despite the research on this topic confirming this, doctors continue to routinely recommend induction at 39 weeks for all women who present with this condition.
When Breanne found out she had gestational diabetes, she was devastated. She was an active participant in many birthing communities and worried this would make her high risk. She was relieved to find out it did not. She was able to quickly get it under control through a healthy diet with lots of lean protein and healthy fats.
So, imagine how surprised Breanne was when she reached 36 weeks and her doctor started talking about inducing in a few weeks. Everything was going fine. Her GD was under control. The baby was healthy. Why induce, doc?
In a nutshell, doctors expect babies born to mothers with GD to be larger, and they continue to act as though women cannot birth big babies. To date, there isn’t enough evidence of complications stemming from GD baby births to indicate a need for induction for moms with diet-controlled GD. Furthermore, the evidence that does exist is in support of letting that baby continue to cook. Breanne chose to refuse induction and birthed an 8-pound 3-ounce baby in her 41st week of pregnancy.
6 Because Baby Is 'Already Mature' At 39 Weeks
In recent years, the idea of what constitutes term in a pregnancy has changed. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists redefined the definition. It used to be that a woman who reached 37 weeks of pregnancy was considered term, but it was found that too many babies were still being born with brain and lung development issues. So, it was changed to 39 weeks.
As with everything else, this advancement came with a downside. It was changed to 39 weeks because evidence showed that most babies have reached full fetal lung development by then. So, doctors took this and ran with it as an excuse to feel that induction after 39 weeks is completely safe for all women and babies. It’s not.
Catherine didn’t know this. When the doctor told her they could go ahead and induce at 39 weeks to make sure her husband would be there for the birth before deploying overseas with the military, she was elated. She had no idea she could just schedule her induction like that, and loved her doctor all the more for bringing it to her attention.
Catherine’s baby was born after 39 weeks gestation and needed breathing treatments and steroids post-birth, in addition to a stay in the NICU on a respirator. It turns out his lungs were not as developed as the alleged iron clad research would have one believe. Maybe she wasn’t really 39 weeks. All she knows for sure is that more time would’ve given his lungs the help they needed to develop, and it was mostly her fault for consenting to the induction without researching it first. That’s a mistake she’ll never make again.
5 If A VBAC Is Deemed 'Too Dangerous'
When Samara was pregnant with her daughter, she was thrilled to have the chance to have a vaginal birth. An emergency situation with her prior pregnancy with her son had landed her in the operating room before she even got to experience a contraction or the sensation of her water breaking. She was excited for the traditional birth experience the second time around.
Since she had to have an emergency C-section at 38 weeks with her first baby, she really hadn’t even the vaguest idea of when she would go into labor with her second. She certainly didn’t expect to go way overdue, having believed what she’d heard about subsequent babies coming sooner, and often before their due dates.
Well, when Samara made it to her 40-week appointment, her doctor began talking about inducing as though it was in the cards all along. She was so confused, upset and shocked that she froze and failed to ask any questions before heading home to seek solace in her husband’s arms. The doctor warned her that uterine rupture was far more likely after 41 weeks because she had had a Cesarean before, and inducing before that was the best approach. Too bad this outdated advice isn’t true at all, and certain induction methods — like Pitocin — actually increase the risk of hemorrhage for VBAC mommies.
Samara did something slightly unconventional. She sought the advice of other women in a birth group she’d connected with who were also planning VBACs. They shared advice with her, but more importantly, they shared research. Armed with studies printed out in hand, she went to her 41-week appointment and said no to induction. Her doctor barely argued and left the room quickly without glancing at the information she’d brought. Samara went into labor on her own two days later and delivered a healthy baby — vaginally.
4 If The Situation Is Being Overanalysed
Often, doctors will encourage women to consent to non-stress tests later in pregnancy just to make sure the placenta is working correctly and that there is no evidence of fetal distress. This is another great advancement in medicine that has saved many babies, but again — it’s being exploited. There is no evidence that all women across the board need an NST if they go over their due dates or are closely approaching 42 weeks. Every decade, it seems to encroach upon women’s due dates even more.
The problem is that these tests give providers insight into what is going on with baby a little too closely for comfort. While some providers rely on research that notes a certain number of fetal decelerations are normal during contractions, others don’t want to see any decelerations at all. And of course they don’t tell you that until you’re hooked up and showing a decel here and there. These providers immediately jump on the induction wagon and expect you to grab their hand.
That’s just how it went down with Kristin when she was 40 weeks pregnant with her son. Her doctor had been keen on inducing as soon as Kristin reached 39 weeks, with no real reason to do so other than noting she wasn’t dilated yet. This kind of practice makes patients think their bodies are not going to cooperate with labor. It’s not just rude and completely against any scientific evidence, but it’s unethical and downright wrong to encourage women not to trust their own bodies. Kristin only wishes she had realized this beforehand.
Kristin fully intended to wait for labor to start on its own. So, she was on board with doing whatever she could to silence her doctor’s petty claims for induction. Part of that was agreeing that if she hadn’t gone into labor by her due date, she would agree to two NSTs the following week. The first NST showed two decelerations — both during contractions. Then the pressure to induce really came. Instead of caving to it though, Kristin said no thank you, and switched to a midwife during her 40th week of pregnancy. She gave birth without any intervention eight days later to a healthy baby boy.
3 If Mom Has Had 'Too Many' Kids
We’ve tackled multiples at one time, now let’s talk about moms who’ve had multiple children — separately. We aren’t here to judge. If you’re a one and done mommy, we’re all for it. If you want fourteen kids, shoot for the stars, lady. But by all means, do not let a doctor push you and tell you your body will fail you because of it.
Women were made to give birth. We were made to carry children in our wombs for nine months, birth them vaginally, and breastfeed them well into the toddler years or beyond. Biologically, that is the norm. Screw what society says.
Some doctors push women to induce out of belief in an outdated theory that labor gets more difficult for women after they’ve birthed five children. It’s simply untrue and any study that used to claim such was based on uncontrolled situations in which the sample sizes were entirely too small.
Christina just recently gave birth to baby number seven. She did so at home, just like she did for her fifth and sixth babies, because her experience with doctors when planning baby number four was less than appealing. When she was due to have her son, the doctor started pushing her to induce because of a myriad of reasons he essentially made up that all stemmed from that being her fourth birth. There is no cut-off in terms of pregnancies where they immediately become harder, have more risks or require more intervention simply because they are a fourth, fifth, sixth or so on subsequent pregnancy.
2 If Mom Is Said To Be 'Too Tiny' To Deliver
Any woman who has been pregnant before can serve as testament to just how amazing the female body is. The hips spend nine long months expanding to allow for the passage of a baby, and they can take up to two years after birth to go back to their pre-pregnancy size if they ever do at all.
Thus, even the tiniest and most petite of women are capable of giving birth vaginally. Some of the smallest, shortest, skinniest women have gone on to vaginally birth ten-pound babies. This. Is. Birth. There is no reason to induce based on a mother’s size, just as there is no reason to induce based on guesses about baby’s size. And no, x-rays of mom’s pelvis don’t prove anything, either.
Brandy has always been thin, and she’s never felt bothered by it until she was pregnant. She spent about five months waiting to even look pregnant as everyone she ran into told her they couldn’t believe she was. Then, her doctor shocked her in one of her last appointments with him when he told her he thought induction was best, because she was so small in frame.
She couldn’t even believe that was a thing. Small in frame? So, she was to believe she was too skinny to give birth and that her body made a baby that is too big to pass through her pelvis. Fortunately, Brandy’s mother was also a very thin woman and she’d birthed three children vaginally just fine. This momma trusted her instincts instead of the doctor and they prevailed when she birthed a seven-pounder with no complications.
1 Because Her Last Labor Is 'Too Fast'
Is there such a thing as a labor that is too fast? In the world of labor pains, most women would say no, but some would argue that the faster it occurs, the more intense it feels. Regardless of personal opinions, doctors like to encourage women to show up to the hospital way before they ever need to be there and stay long after they should’ve been sent home. Well, hospitals like to anyway.
Every pregnant woman is a cash cow. Each patient turnover is money in the bank. They want women coming in just when they’re sure it’s labor and leaving that patient bed open 36 hours later. When a woman has given birth before and it went rather quickly, doctors may be even more keen on making sure mom shows up as soon as there is any sign of labor.
Sure, some babies end up being born roadside or in the hospital parking lot, but this is rare. In addition, just because a previous labor was quick doesn’t mean a subsequent one will be. My second labor was five hours long, and my third was still double that. A family friend had her first baby in less than two hours, and her second took almost a full day.
Some doctors will scare women who’ve had short labors like this into believing they’ll labor so quickly next time that they won’t have time to make it to the hospital. So, they’ll suggest inducing so that everyone can be on board from the get-go. It’s not only unnecessary, but no medical research supports this. It really isn’t that hard, mommies. Just. Say. No.
Sources: Huffington Post, Medscape, Evidence Based Birth