If you've been presented with the option of having labor induced instead of waiting for your baby and body to start labor on its own, and if the induction is for reasons other than a medical emergency (learn more about true medical reasons for induction), you may want to reconsider and wait. Though induction is common, and you've likely had many friends and family members who have been induced, it is not without risks and pitfalls. It's important to be fully informed about what's involved with and what you may experience during an induction.
1. An induced labor can be very long. An induction uses artificial methods to send your body into labor, and if your body is not ready (and there's no proven way to tell), it may take a longer time to go through the stages of labor. Depending on how favorable your cervix is for labor, an induction can take up to three days in the hospital before baby is born. While labor that starts on its own also can be long (there's no way to predict!), induction tends to have a higher chance of being longer.
2. Babies do better when they pick their own birthday! Usually, babies are healthier, have less complications, and are more developmentally ready for life outside the womb when they help initiate labor on their own. Even if you are past 37 or 39 weeks, it's still ideal to wait it out (unless there's a medical issue) since all babies develop at different rates and due dates are not accurate.
3. Inductions require lots of medical interventions. If you're considering induction and you wanted to be active and move around during labor, use little or no pain medication, labor in the water, or have intermittent monitoring, you need to understand that many of those preferences will be difficult or impossible to achieve, especially depending on your hospital and care provider's policies. Furthermore, an induction requires several interventions, like the use of Pitocin (or other methods for inducing -- be sure to ask your care provider what is typically used during an induction), continuous fetal monitoring, an increased need for medicinal pain relief, like epidural, and increased restrictions on movement -- all of which come with risks and drawbacks for labor.
It's important to weigh the risks and get to the bottom of why an induction is being suggested, or perhaps the reasons why you're wanting to be induced. Sometimes, women feel a greater sense of control when they are able to choose an induction, usually stemming from a fear around childbirth. If you have fears leading you in that direction, it may be helpful to talk with a therapist and take a good childbirth class to better understand your concerns and work through them. Hiring a doula for your birth also can help alleviate concerns.
Other times, inductions are chosen for reasons of convenience (on the part of the care provider or family), or for a baby suspected to be "too big," which is not evidence based or considered a true "medical" reason. If you do need to be induced for medical reasons, however, you don't have to sacrifice all of your birth preferences for your induction. Check out this guide for more information on having more of the birth you want even if you need to be induced.
Ultimately, the decision to induce or not is yours to make. Ideally, you will make your decision from an informed position, feel confident in your decision, and have great labor and birth support.