Thoughts on Elective Induction and Informed Birthing

There once was a man and woman who decided they were ready to be parents.  They were so excited to meet their bundle of joy.

At the woman’s 37 week appointment, the doctor could read the excitement written all over her face.  He offered to bring her baby into the world the following week.  He told her to be at the hospital by 6:30 in the morning and she’d have a baby in her arms by the end of  the day.  That was it.  End of conversation.

I am that woman.  I gave birth at 38 weeks pregnant on December 10, 2008 to a healthy baby boy.

I was never informed of the risks that come with an elective induction.

I remember my mother-in-law mentioning the increased risk of cesarean, but I thought surely my doctor would have informed me if that were true.  Surely, she must have it wrong.  I now know that she didn’t have it wrong and I should have listened to her.  She did birth 5 babies, after all.  And my doctor?  He didn’t inform me, because it wasn’t in his best interest.

To say that I’m still mad about it would probably be an understatement.  Luckily, mostly everything went according to my doctor’s “well laid plans.”  The only scare was when Bryson’s heart rate dropped quite suddenly, which I now know isn’t rare during induction.

And now?  Less than 3 years after my induction at 38 weeks pregnant, study after study has shown that the 38th week is extremely important.   So important, that most insurance companies and hospitals will no longer induce until the 39th week.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Childbirth Connection and March of Dimes, state that a baby needs at least 39 completed weeks in order to fully develop their brain and other vital organs.

Why are we so impatient?  I know mother’s who struggle to keep their babies in the womb.  I know a mama that has beautiful triplets now.  She fought to keep them safe in her womb, but they were born at 27 weeks.  Fortunately, they are now healthy and thriving.  I bet if you’d ask her though, she would have done anything to carry those sweet babies to term.

So, why are we “evicting” our babies the first chance we get?  What is so wrong with letting our babies choose their own birth dates?  Are we just not informed? Do we not care?  Are we that tired of being pregnant?  Are the risks worth it?

And the size thing?  Don’t let your doctor try to tell you that your baby is getting too big to birth.  Seriously, their estimates are guesses, at best.  I’ve read time and time again where women have been told their babies were getting too large and were talked into inductions, only to have 7 or 8 pound babies.  Seriously.  Our bodies were designed for birth.

Now, let’s talk about 40 weeks.  Doctors act like there is an expiration on pregnancy when you hit 40 weeks.  At my 39 week check-up with Bella, my doctor stressed that if I didn’t have her by the next week, they would have to induce.  Here’s the kicker, we are not overdue or post-term until we reach the 42nd week of pregnancy40 weeks is the average- not the expiration date. When you reach 40W +1, you are not overdue and that isn’t a reason to induce, contrary to what your doctor will have you believe.

A recent study showed a link between Pitocin a drug used during inductions, and ADHD.   I hope that subsequent studies prove this one false.  I really do.

I’m not here to judge.  I just want women to be informed.  Whatever decision you make, as long as it is an educated and informed decision, you can stand behind it.  The problem is that our doctors, the people we trust with our care and our baby’s care, are not willing to inform us.  We must inform ourselves and each other.

If you want to keep reading and learn more, here are some informative articles and pages:



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  • My doctor made it clear from the beginning that inductions weren’t an option unless medically necessary. I wish more doctors followed that… I hate hearing women say that drs will induce before babies are ready… Just for convenience’s sake.

    • See, I wish our local doctors were like that. Our OB practice has 4 OBs and they are all what I call “induction-happy!” I didn’t mention it in the post, but when I had my daughter naturally at 39W +5, the doctor asked me why I hadn’t been induced yet! I was floored. I looked him straight in the eye and told him that I didn’t WANT to be induced. He thought they had made a scheduling mistake!

  • I totally agree with you. However, I did end up having an induction. I didn’t want one, but after lots of prayer and research I did have one. But… I think my circumstances were different from most. I was 42 weeks along. (I knew that for sure.) I had also been on anti-contraction meds for months–24 weeks until 38 weeks–due to pre-term labor at 24 weeks. I am one of those people that doesn’t take much medication–ever–and it always has a strong effect on me. I really think that even though I had been off the anti-contraction meds for weeks that my body was still under their influence and was going to need help to get things going. Unfortunately, it did end up taking 38 hours, a c-section, and an epidural (after 23 hours of petocin induced labor), but I still think it was the right thing to do. I really am hoping that next time will be different! I really want a natural birth (at the hospital–just in case!).

    • Thank you for your comment, Rachel. You DID made an educated decision and you did what was best for you and your baby, so kudos to you! I had an induction the first time around and then a completely natural birth the second time, so I hope you can have the same.

  • I agree that it’s only fair to know all of the ins and outs of every single decision. Sometimes I think we’re led to do whatever is easiest for the medical community, not for us. 🙁

  • Great post. I had pitocin during my labor bcause my doctor said I was having “dysfunctional labor”. I was 3 days past the due date, but I was definately in labor. I wish I did not have to have the pitocin though.

  • This is a great post, very well put. And I know exactly what you mean, it’s crazy how accepted getting induced is nowadays. I’ve never been induced but did finally make the appointments to be induced with both my babies (two weeks after my due date). I happened to go labor on THE DAY that I was scheduled both times. Like at midnight. It’s like I scared my body into going into labor… now if only that worked for everyone. lol

    But yeah, I had to tell the doctor both times that I wanted to wait and go into labor naturally. They’re very open to inducing you early.

  • I LOVE this post!! My first 2 babies were born 10 days past their due dates. The third was born 3 days before her due date. I refused to go any earlier. Babies need that time, you are so right. It is perfectly fine and healthy for babies to not come out until after their due dates too.

    Don’t feel guilty about your decision Whitney, just know it for next time 🙂

  • I have to say that I delivered my children at all different times. my oldest natural at 36 w with patocian. My 3rd son at 41 weeks by emergency csetion. Apparently one more hour and he wouldn’t of made it. BUT thankfully I was schedule for an induction that very day!!
    my last child was planned csection at 38 weeks and he ws ticked off that he was taken from the womb I always wondered if they just gave him a few more days if he would of had a better personality or atleast one that wasn’t so demanding lol

    interesting findings and I hope they do prove that wrong as well

  • There is a definite “anxiousness” about the end of pregnancy. That does not mean that it’s time to get out babies out with induction. Your post was well written and I can feel the passion you have for this subject! I fully agree with your views! My daughter was 13 days early and my son took a lot longer, he was a day past his due date! I was kindly persuading him to come out, but he wasn’t budging!!! I knew he would come when he was ready. And he did! The end is torture, but when you look back, your discomfort at the end no longer matters. Your child is here and beautiful and yours!

    Live and learn 🙂

  • I just wish I had been given a choice. With both my pregnancies I was induced at 38W with the first, and 37W with the second due to my uncontrollable blood pressure. Labor is ten times longer with induction and you will have a harder recovery due to the fact you cant move from the bed once the pitocin is started. My first one was so high up my labor was 15 hours long, he had never even made it into the birthing canal yet. So yes if I had been able to make the decision the second time it would have been to let mother nature take its course and not IV induced labor. Its alot to think about for a new mom. But take it from one with experience like Whitney, if your health and the baby’s health is stable then just let it happen on its own folks. Its what our moms and grandmothers did for years. Ive found with today s society we want instantaniously self gratification. Great post! Hope it helps a new mom make a very important choice.

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