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Labor induction refers to the process of starting labor contractions artificially. There is a multitude of methods to induce, from relatively non-invasive methods like stripping a woman's membranes to rupturing the membranes, "natural" methods like castor oil, and induction with drugs such as pitocin. What are some of the reasons to induce labor, rather than waiting for a women to start having contractions herself?

  • Labor may be induced for pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, or a partial placental abruption, even before a mother reaches "term".
  • Twin pregnancies may be induced at a certain point in pregnancy for reasons relating to their position and size.
  • If a doctor determines a baby is unusually big, they might suggest labor induction to avoid the baby being too big to be delivered vaginally. If this happens to you, just remember that late ultrasounds are extremely unreliable to determine fetal size, and results can vary by up to two pounds.
  • Have you noticed a decrease in fetal movement? You may be induced, if you are at term.
  • If you are post-term, past 42 weeks pregnancy, the baby's risk of stillbirth increases. You are likely to have your doctor suggest that you are induced.
  • Women who have too little or too much amniotic fluid may have an induction of labor.
  • If your contractions started, but then stopped, medical professionals say you have a stalled labor. This may be augmented with pitocin or other drugs to get your labor back on track.

In some cases, c-section is the better alternative to an induced labor, particularly in cases of fetal distress. At the same time, in many cases, there are reasons to wait for labor to start naturally rather than inducing, as inductions do carry their own set of risks. This especially holds true for inductions with medications such as pitocin.

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