Induction is when your doctor starts your labor instead of waiting for it to happen naturally when you and your baby are ready. It’s becoming standard practice for obstetricians to induce labor. There is no good medical reason for, or research supporting, this procedure which is being carried out so widely. It is obviously very convenient for the doctor. Often, it is sold to mother’s as being a good thing to be able to schedule your labor.
Pitocin, the drug of choice for inductions, is specifically approved by the FDA only for induction of labor when it is medically indicated. See the article about pitocin in the Birth section of this blog for more information. Pitocin is a synthetic form of oxytocin that speeds everything up.
In a natural birth the baby is the one who initiates the labor, releasing a chemical which begins the contractions. When baby does not get to start her own labor she misses a crucial piece of important imprinting that will make it hard for her to initiate in her life. She may find it difficult to feel her internal impulse to initiate, and get started. What does this mean? Think about how many times a day you move through the sequence of beginning something, moving through the middle of the activity to the end, finish it and then integrate your experience afterward. What comes first in this process is the impulse inside of you to do the activity or project. When your child has had their labor induced this very important internal impulse can often not be accessed. Instead of this healthy, necessary, and natural initiating impulse there will be an imprint of the induction which says “someone will come from outside of me to start things up”. Often people who have been induced will forever be waiting for something or someone from the outside to come and make ‘it’ happen for them, this is the imprint in action. They can’t get going by themselves, they have lost the ability to have a felt sense of their own inner impulse to initiate or begin. Your child may be able to initiate but it could have the quality of pitocin. Each drug used in birth has its own character, which becomes part of the way it expresses itself within an imprint. Pitocin’s character is speedy, revved, unrelenting with no space for relaxation or letting down. Initiation with pitocin imprinting could look very revved or fast, perhaps even impulsive in its energy.
There is a big difference between doing something in your own time, when you are ready, and doing it on someone else’s time when you are not ready. People who have been induced can find it difficult to be told what to do, or when to do it. They can also need someone else to tell them what to do, and when. It depends on how it imprints. When I work with induced children the issue of being able to feel ready before doing something is always present in the Prenatal & Birth Play environment as we support them to find their own impulse and pacing.
Pitocin used throughout labor can create an unrelenting barrage of unnatural contractions. Normal contractions have a natural rise and fall pattern in them with a brief break in between each one, which allows mother and baby to have a much needed rest during labor. Pitocin allows no such breaks and this can be exhausting for both mother and baby, often leading to a failure to progress (FTP) label from your doctor. FTP can lead to a c-section at worst and a cascade of further medical interventions at best. Babies induced with pitocin may have quite a revved up nervous system, and feel unable to let down and rest. When I hear that almost 70% of women are now agreeing to be induced with pitocin I wonder if there is a link between this overused drug and the incredible rise in ADD and ADHD that we are seeing in the U.S. Revved nervous systems do not a settled child make. Could it be that there is a connection between birthing practices, especially use of drugs and interventions, and the problems that are manifesting in our children? There needs to be some serious research on the possible links between birthing drugs that are routinely administered, and the problems that are plaguing our children.
You always have a choice about whether you want to receive an induction, or not, unless it is medically indicated. It would be best for you and your baby if you declined an induction that has been offered for convenience or scheduling reasons. The earlier you enter the hospital environment in your labor, the more likely you are to end up with a c-section. Research has indicated that the rising induction rate is directly linked with rising c-section rates. If you have chosen to have your baby in hospital, consider having an experienced doula or midwife that you can call to come to your home as soon as you go into labor. With the right support at home, good information from an experienced doula or midwife and good support, you can stay out of the hospital until you are much further into your labor. In this way you can avoid most of the medical interventions, have a much higher chance of avoiding a c-section and prevent many levels of trauma to both yourself and your baby. The earlier you arrive, and with an induction this is very early, the more medical interventions you will have and the higher your likelihood of c-section. There is an unspoken 12 hour limit on labor length for women birthing in hospitals, so if you are not progressing in your labor according to this unspoken rule you will be considered FTP.
Another sensible strategy is to make sure you have a good birth plan, something your doula or midwife can help you with, so that when you do get to the hospital you and your birthing team are very clear about the decisions you have made in advance. Make sure you have a doctor who is willing to follow your birth plan, some docs refuse. It helps to have a doula to deal with the medical staff for you and support your birth plan otherwise it can be a lot of work for you on top of your labor.
In most cases there is no medical reason for the majority of inductions given and they have an emotional and psychological impact as well as a physical one.
© 2021 Karen Melton
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