As a doula, I am often asked how to avoid inductions close to end-of-the-year holidays. This can be hard to accomplish because the induction conversation may stem from medically unnecessary suggestions that scare families into labor earlier than needed.
I have gathered a few tips over the years that can help reduce the risk of being induced close to the end-of-the-year holiday season. In this blog post, I will share my knowledge and experience to help you prepare for a safe, healthy birth when the time comes.
What is a medical induction of birth?
Labor induction is the use of medications or other methods to bring on (induce) labor, according to ACOG. (htt) Labor is induced to stimulate contractions of the uterus in an effort to have a vaginal birth.
Labor induction may be recommended if the health of the birthing person or baby is at risk. Some of the reasons for inducing labor include the following:
- Your pregnancy has lasted more than 41 to 42 weeks
- You have health problems, such as problems with your heart, lungs, or kidneys
- There are problems with the placenta
- There are problems with the fetus, such as poor growth
- There is a decrease in amniotic fluid
- You have an infection of the uterus
- You have gestational diabetes or had diabetes mellitus before pregnancy
- You have chronic hypertension, preeclampsia, or eclampsia
- You have pre-labor rupture of membranes (PROM)
Why do doctors induce labor near end-of-the-year holidays?
Over the years, I’ve observed the following reasons:
- Convenience: to reduce the likelihood of them being called in to work during the holiday
- Client management: doctors have so many patients, they must manage a portion of patients by scheduling birthing dates through inductions which are predictable
- Profitable: to make sure they can make money from as many patients as possible because they can’t get paid for patients when they are not present for your birth.
- Liability: doctors fear something going wrong with the pregnancy over a long holiday weekend
Are there any benefits to being induced during end-of-the-year holidays?
One potential benefit to being induced close to end-of-the-year holiday includes:
- Potentially better staffing due to lower patient volumes.
However, research has not found that this results in improved outcomes. The ARRIVE trial, which compared elective inductions with expectant management, showed no difference in neonatal outcomes.
What are the risks of end-of-the-year inductions to Black & Brown families?
Since we know that the induction of labor increases the risk of cesarean section and all the associated risks for the birthing person and baby, it is important to avoid induction if it is not medically necessary. Since birth outcomes for Black & Brown families are statistically worse, then anything that places them at risk for complications should be avoided. Families should weigh the potential benefits of being induced near a holiday against the potential risks. It can be helpful to have this conversation with your birth team which includes a doula who can help provide additional support and information about the process and be present with you if you choose one.
Additional considerations for Black & Brown birthing people to eliminate risks of maternal & infant mortality
Be sure to:
- Be well-informed about your right to informed consent for every procedure and your right to refuse interventions
- Have a loved one present during the birth
- Use Birth Preferences document to communicate your care desires
- Get the support of an advocate for times of decision making
- Hire a doula
How can a doula help?
A birth doula can provide evidence-based information, emotional and physical support, and can even help you understand research like the ARRIVE trial. The goal is to make decisions with confidence. It is especially important for Black birthing people to prioritize their safety, as Black maternal health continues to be severely impacted by racial discrimination, health disparities, inadequate access to care, and higher rates of poverty. These issues leave Black mothers at greater risk when it comes to both maternal and infant mortality. Thus, it is important to obtain prenatal care from culturally connected providers, develop strong birth plans that prioritize safety, obtain postpartum follow-up care, and have access to birthing options free from implicit bias or discrimination.