The idea of inducing labor has terrorized me since the birth of my son. It’s synonymous with what I still consider my biggest failure—not allowing Noah to be born on his terms. Instead, I tried to schedule him into my life.
I wish I could return to the weeks leading up to Noah’s birth. I would do more research on inducing labor ahead of my due date. I would say, “No, thanks” to my doctor’s suggestion to induce for the sake of getting it done.
Two things led me to choose an induction three days ahead of Noah’s due date:
- My OB-GYN had suggested it, and I trusted her. She was warm and laid-back. I believed she had my best interests in mind, not those of the big pharmaceutical companies. I still believe that.
- I was terrified of childbirth. Inducing sounded like a safe way to introduce order to chaos.
In seeking a tidy ending to my uneventful pregnancy, I sought to stay in control of my body and the baby. I wasn’t alone in my quest for convenience. Author Jennifer Margulis said, “’No one goes into spontaneous labor anymore,’ an obstetric anesthesiologist at one of Boston’s largest and most respected hospitals, told me this week on background (which means he did not want to be quoted on the record). ‘We induce them. They like it that way. It’s more convenient.'” Margulis wrote The Business of Baby: What Doctors Don’t Tell You, What Corporations Try to Sell You and How to Put Your Pregnancy, Childbirth and Baby Before Their Bottom Line.
The convenience factor has been in play for at least a few years. According to a February 2008 article in Medical News Today, convenience was “one of the more common reasons for induction.” The story explains, “Allowing labor to start on its own reduces the possibility of complications, including a vacuum or forceps-assisted birth, fetal heart rate changes, babies with low birth weight or jaundice, and cesarean surgery. Studies consistently show that inducing labor almost doubles a woman’s chance of having cesarean surgery.”
Inducing labor can be a lifesaver in high-risk situations, the article points out, based on guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
I wish I had read the MNT story before Noah was born. As a journalist, I’m used to doing extensive research. I have no excuse for slacking, particularly regarding the life of my unborn child and my own well-being. Induction should be reserved for high-risk situations or emergencies. Childbirth isn’t convenient. Nor is motherhood. I suspect the message of “Just induce—it’s so convenient” succeeds in America because we’re bred and badgered to believe we can have it our way, no matter what “it” is.
The birth of my second child was natural, spontaneous, and one of the best events in my life. I refused Pitocin. I pressed on for as long as possible without painkillers, and opted for conservative doses. I knew better, and I did better.
That same principle applies to the lessons I’m learning today, with a toddler and a preschooler. My children are teaching me, and I pray I’m improving. Parents strive to raise their children right. But children raise their parents right back—to new levels of awareness, love, and humility.