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What you need to know about induced labour

Readers Lounge By Esther Muchene
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Many women and men wonder how it feels to experience labour. For the sake of those who can’t relate with menstrual cramps, some mothers have described it as the worst stomach cramps you can ever think of, or worse still, like someone is trying to tear you apart.

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Not here to scare anyone, those are but two of the experiences some of our mothers have gone through to give birth. One thing we can all agree on is, labour is no joke.

Inducing labour has been one of the most controversial topics when it comes to due dates and delivery. A lot of people have heard negative things about it only to change their mind later on and choose to be induced. 

Here is why, and what else you need to know about induced labour. 

  • What is it and how does it work?

According to Epidural Labour Analgesia, 2015, inducing labour is the process of stimulating labour contractions before vaginal birthing. 

Labour is induced for either medical or non-medical reasons. A doctor might recommend induction of labour in cases where the mother and child’s health are at risk. This might happen when the pregnancy is overdue, when the mother is suffering from high blood pressure, when a diabetic condition is presenting a high-risk situation and other potentially critical situations. 

As far as non-medical reasons are concerned, some women choose this procedure by requesting for an elective induction. There is a rise of elective inductions but some doctors support that induced labour should only be done for medical reasons.

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There are two main techniques used which are, use of medication and mechanical methods. The former relies on doses of Pitocin, Prostaglandin and other cervical ripening medication. In mechanical induced labour techniques tools such as the use of catheters or hooks are used to pave way for delivery. The doctor will recommend the most appropriate inducing method for you depending on certain factors.

You should also know that not everyone can be approved for the procedure. The best option might be caesarian delivery if you’re having a multiple pregnancy, if your cervix is being blocked by the placenta, if you have an active herpes breakout, if your baby or umbilical cord isn’t in the right position and if you’ve had a C-section delivery before.

  • Risks involved

Inducing doesn’t sound like a bad idea so why are so many women against it? 

Well, according to the Epidural Labor Analgesia, 2015, one of the major reasons behind the opposition is the fact that some women experience more pain with the medication is given. That has caused many women to seek traditional or natural ways of inducing labour, such as licking spoonsful of castor oil, which doesn’t work.

Failed inductions are also a big concern. This can happen when labor is still delayed and no extra amount of medication can be administered. This will mean that a C-section might be the only way to deliver.

There is still the risk of contracting infections, postpartum hemorrhage when the uterine wall doesn’t contract properly after delivery and there’s a chance that your baby’s heart rate could be affected by the medication.

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Despite these risks, a good percentage of patients still have successful deliveries with up to 75% of first time mums having safe deliveries according to Mayo Clinic. And, there’s an upward trend of women choosing to be induced.

Also, there has been significant improvements from old-school mechanical inducing methods to newer, safer techniques so there is more confidence that the procedure will go well

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