Over the weekend, a “Facebook friend” of mine gave birth to an adorable baby girl named Katherine. On Tuesday of last week, said friend posted something along the lines of this: “Today’s my due date! Took a long walk around the neighborhood last night… Hoping to meet Baby K soon!!”
This of course elicited a long string of responses. Some of the replies were words of encouragement and congratulations for making it to forty weeks; others included personal anecdotes on how to trigger labor.
Naturally, I felt compelled to add my own two cents and suggested Evening Primrose Oil and Organic Pregnancy Tea to move things along. Around 39 weeks, I tried just about everything to encourage Baby J to release his death grip on my womb. I bounced on a yoga ball for hours on end and drank pineapple smoothies ’til I was blue in the face (pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain that supposedly induces labor naturally).
My mother, who is rather old-school in nature, resorted to the method that folks used back in the good ‘ole days and drove me over every speed bump and railroad track she could find around town (and at alarmingly fast speeds, might I add). She was so certain Baby J would pop out after our joy ride that she considered charging my pregnant friends money in exchange for a labor-inducing tour of Austin. Her plan went up in smoke however, as my little nugget didn’t budge an inch. It really is too bad, as she would make an excellent tour guide.
I can say with some degree of certainty that the combination of EPO and tea did the trick. Of course a full moon didn’t hurt either. Did you know that the moon’s gravitational pull can affect a woman’s body in the same way it affects the tides? It’s called the lunar effect. Ask any medical professional who works in a hospital and I’m sure they’ll agree; the hospital is inundated with crazies & pregnant women (more crazies?) every full moon. Annnd that’s enough science for one day.
Back to my Facebook friend… I scrolled through the responses others left for her and hesitated when I came across the following question:
“Do you have a date that you will get induced by if she’s running late?”
“Saturday!! Reaaaaallly want it to happen naturally before then though!”
Then let it happen naturally!
Perhaps I am a tad hypocritical, as I was almost seduced into an elective induction myself. When I was in my 39th week of pregnancy, my OBGYN dropped the I-word, and I was intrigued at the prospect of controlling the otherwise great unknown: Labor. With a planned induction, I knew that my doctor would in fact be the one to deliver my baby boy, I could arrange for family member’s travel so that they would be present for J’s birth, and best of all, I would no longer wake up each morning and wonder, “Is today the day?”
What really sealed the deal for me was an off-the-cuff comment made by the nurse while the doctor was out of the examining room. I heard the words “increased risk of stillbirth” and developed tunnel vision instantaneously. Needless to say, I left the appointment with an induction date on the calendar. After a little help from the Google machine, I found that the risks of delivering a stillborn baby at term are negligible. The risks do increase after 42 weeks, however, the increase in risk is not even considered significant until 43 weeks.
Within an hour of arriving home from the doctor’s office I was in tears, hysterical at the prospect of inducing labor. I researched Cytoctec, the controversial induction drug of choice at my hospital, and was horrified to learn that it is not even FDA approved for labor induction. I did not want a c-section and I did not want to cause my sweet little peanut unnecessary stress, both of which are common side effects of labor induction. My intuition was impossible to ignore. I could not go through with an elective induction.
At my 40 week appointment, I shared my concerns with my doctor and she agreed to cancel the induction as long as my amniotic fluid levels were normal… We couldn’t have Baby J drying up in the womb! Unfortunately my fluid levels appeared low, which does in fact warrant a medically necessary induction. A biophysical profile was ordered to get a better look at Jack’s overall movements, breathing, and muscle tone, as well as the amount of amniotic fluid that surrounded him. Thankfully, we passed with flying colors. The fluid levels previously appeared marginal because he was storing more than his fair share of amniotic fluid in his belly. Go figure.
Within twenty-four hours of the biophysical profile I was in active labor, which means that I would have missed true labor by a day or so had I followed through with the original induction date. Thank God for intuition.
The night before her scheduled induction, my Facebook friend posted this:
“Last pre-baby workout! Induction scheduled for tomorrow morning. Tried to encourage nature along with extra squats…would LOVE to go into labor today – prayers appreciated!”
I did not respond other than giving a thumbs-up to the following comment:
“Good luck, I’m surprised they are inducing so soon. See if they can postpone as long as she is healthy. Elle was 9 days “late” – I think babies come when they are ready.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Fortunately, the baby was born healthy and from what I can gather via Facebook, all is well with both parties involved. I am certainly not judging this friend for agreeing to an elective induction, nor would I ever judge a woman for making a choice that is hers to make. My reaction is more so a result of my own personal experience and the tremendous emotional response I grappled with when considering an induction for myself. As patients, we trust our doctors and want to believe that they have our best interest at heart. It is a shame that women aren’t better informed about the risks associated with an induction before signing on the dotted line.
Thankfully, labor is not on my radar at this point in time. Instead of fretting about the birth of a child, I am busy enjoying my family.
Enjoying beautiful “patio weather” with Baby J over the weekend