Let Labor Begin on Its Own

Science and Sensibility is having a blog carnival on the Six Healthy Birth Practices, starting, quite naturally, with the first, which is Let Labor Begin on Its Own. Of course, there are sometimes reasons why labor should be induced, or skipped altogether and the woman given a C-section; but primarily it is best for both mom and baby for labor to begin on its own.

Some months ago, I read a blog or article or email about induction, and the author used a phrase that really struck me between the eyes. We know a lot about pregnancy, fetal development, labor, and birth, but we’re still a little fuzzy on what exactly starts labor — some complex interaction between baby and mother, with it seeming that the baby starts labor by some hormonal or chemical signal to the mom that he’s ready to live on the outside. Now comes the poignant phrase. Until the time that labor naturally begins, attempts at inducing labor are more likely to fail because the mother’s body is protecting the baby from being born too early. When an induction “fails” it is because the mother’s body is succeeding at gestating her baby a little longer (probably for his own good). Now, that’s a different way of looking at things!

One childbirth educator I know had two students due about the same time. One or both were being threatened with induction, and the educator was more concerned about one than about the other, because the second woman had a cervix that was far more “ripe” than the first woman, who was barely dilated or effaced at all. However, what happened was that the first woman went into labor prior to her scheduled induction, and had a smooth labor and birth; while the second woman was induced, and had a long, hard, highly-medicated labor, perhaps ending in a C-section. Which shows the importance of naturally going into labor. If judging solely on Bishop’s Score, the second woman should have had an easier labor and birth, because she had a “head start” on the other woman, judging on dilation, effacement, and other signs of a ripe cervix and “labor readiness.” But her body and her baby knew better.

One Response

  1. That turns the “failure” of inductions on it’s head. I’m totally going use that in my class discussions of induction! Thanks!!

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