It's not easy being pregnant, in your third trimester, near your due date... and approaching a major holiday like Thanksgiving. Of course, there's the typical discomfort most everyone experiences in late pregnancy. Then on top of that, you have your holiday plans to consider. What if you have your baby right before Thanksgiving? What if you go into labor on Thanksgiving morning? What if you're in the hospital having your baby during Thanksgiving dinner? What if the doctor or midwife you love most is on vacation this week?
If you're due anytime around November 23, any one of these scenarios is possible, so it's understandable that the option of getting induced before Thanksgiving sounds appealing. In fact, the rate of inductions before a major holiday notoriously skyrockets across hospitals in the United States. But here's the problem: getting induced comes with the possibility of extra complications, many of which can be avoided when you let labor and birth happen on its own. If you're seeking to avoid messing up your holiday plans, you need to consider if you're willing to accept the additional risks and drawbacks to induction.
Risks of induction
- Additional medical interventions (IV, pain medication, Pitocin, continuous fetal monitoring, restricted movement)
- Stress on baby
- Premature birth (due dates are just an estimate; you could be giving birth too early)
- Baby needing NICU
Drawbacks of Induction
- Potentially extra long labor
- Increased labor pain when pitocin is used
- Possible higher medical bills
Ways to Avoid Induction at Thanksgiving
The simplest way to avoid an induction is to not have an induction unless it is medically necessary. If you take a good childbirth class, you can learn all about the procedure of induction, including medical and non-medical reasons for one. Medical reasons to begin labor artificially (aka, induce) are:
- You’re showing few signs of labor by 42 confirmed weeks of pregnancy
- You have a medical disease that is not responding to treatment
- You have certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure and too much protein in the urine (a condition known as preeclampsia)
- Your labor isn’t starting on it’s own after your water breaks and you have a Group B Strep positive culture
- You have a uterine infection
- Your baby’s growth has been slow for his or her age
If you have any one of these issues, induction is a sound, solid decision to make for you and your baby.
Dealing with the Uncertainty
If you're committed to avoiding an induction for the Thanksgiving holiday but still concerned about how to handle your anxiety, here are some suggestions that will help:
Make plans close to home - If you typically travel far (more than a few hours) for Thanksgiving, you'll likely want to change your plans to stay close to home this year. Even if you do have your baby the weekend before, you probably won't want to travel too far with a brand new baby.
Skip hosting - The last thing you need to worry about when you're expecting labor any day is planning a meal for a bunch of people. If you usually host the party, it's ok to bow out this year. It's not every day that you're expecting the event of a lifetime.
Adjust your expectations - This year may not look at all like a traditional Thanksgiving, so you're going to have to try to mentally come to terms with that change. Consider what you will do to make this year's celebration meaningful while being sensitive to where you are at this phase in your life. Remind yourself that you can go back to all your special traditions next year.