by Nicole Buratti, HBCE, CLD, CCBE, RPYT, RYT
Did you know that the Tuesday before Thanksgiving is one of the most popular days to give birth in the U.S.? The week before the winter holidays are almost as popular, if not even more. So, is it that women’s bodies are so smart that labor starts spontaneously just in time to celebrate the holidays? Or, is it that the convenience of planning to induce or of scheduling a Cesarean that makes these dates so popular?
Women’s bodies are smart! They DO know how to start labor and how to labor efficiently, without a doubt. However, the stress and constant worry of the deadline to birth your baby before the threat of inducing or c-section from your caregiver will NOT help bring on labor!
In the past week or so, I have noticed an influx of women on social media asking for advice from other women on ‘how to get labor going’ because if they don’t have the baby within the next week or so, their caregiver will have to induce or have to do a cesarean. The number of comments on one thread exceeded 100 with ideas from spicy food to acupressure to castor oil. Castor oil? That’s a whole ‘nother blog for another day! Asking for medical advice on social media? That, too, is another blog for another day!
Why not elect to be induced or plan a Cesarean? (Here’s where my legal guy will remind me that I should tell you that of course, in some cases there may be a true medical need to induce and that Cesareans can save lives.) Yes, I do believe that, but, again… Holidays are NOT a Medical Indication to Induce Labor!
If your body is not ready for labor, nothing will work to bring it on–not spicy foods, not sex, not castor oil, not cervadil, and not pitocin. Being medically induced increases your risk for a surgical birth by 25%. If cervadil and pitocin don’t work, you will have a Cesarean birth.
Let’s talk about convenience. “It’s not just your healthcare professional who may try to rush your baby’s arrival. Families often can feel stressed about the uncertainty of the baby’s arrival and feel it may compromise the celebration of holidays. Some women also fear that their preferred healthcare provider won’t be available and will agree to a scheduled early delivery to guarantee that their provider will be available for the birth,” says Cara Terreri on Lamaze’s Giving Birth with Confidence blog.
Marilyn Curl notes that elective deliveries spike before holidays–but that women do not always realize that the induction is elective, “Few doctors want to be pacing the halls on Thanksgiving or Christmas, waiting for a mother to deliver, so it’s not uncommon to see a surge of women with normal pregnancies being told that there might be an issue and that they should consider scheduling the delivery, coincidentally, right before a holiday.”
According to data run by the New York Times, more than one baby in five is now born after the birth process has been started by a drug. “In about half of these cases, the reason for induction is not related to any medical problem in the woman or her unborn baby, said Dr. William F. Rayburn, an expert in maternal and fetal medicine at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque. Rather, a decision to induce labor is often reached for reasons of convenience to the mother, the family or the doctor.”
Some red flags to signal a pregnant woman that she is being pressured into an unnecessary induction or scheduled cesarean:
Baby is measuring too big and may not fit through your pelvis. Ultrasound technology can inaccurately measure the weight of your baby by a whole pound or more.
Too much or low fluid levels. I’ve attached a chart for your reference below. Oligohydramnios is low amniotic fluid. This may indicate that the mother is dehydrated or that the baby’s kidneys are not working properly to produce enough urine. Low fluid can be a sign of distress. Levels of 5 or less are considered critical and may indicate need for intervention. If this red flag comes up, ask your doctor for your numbers and make an informed choice.
The suggestion is made that your care provider of choice won’t be available for a holiday delivery, won’t be on-call that week, or will be “booked up.” Hmm…. that’s all I can say.
I say, you’ve come this far… YOU CAN DO THIS!! There are so many valid reasons for inducing labor which mother and caregiver can decide together, but CONVENIENCE is not one of them. Why take chances? Be informed. Be empowered.