For most of us in the US, the beginning of November marks the entry into a fun -- albeit sometimes stressful -- season. We have friend and family gatherings to look forward to, traditions to enjoy, and good food to overeat.
If you're pregnant and due on or near Thanksgiving, however, the beginning of this season may bring an additional layer of stress. The truth is, most of us, if given the choice, would prefer not to give birth on a major holiday. There's the typical FOMO, which affects some more than others (and that's ok); then there's the ambivalent feelings about your baby having a holiday birthday (I get it); and there's also general anxiety over dealing with the unknowns of labor and how it will fall into place with your Thanksgiving Day plans (here's a key tip: don't host this year).
Here's the bottom line: Induction is not the answer to your holiday pregnancy stress. Sure, it sounds like a great idea. Get induced on November 17, have baby by the next day, then come home in time to relax for a few days and get ready for Thanksgiving with your precious new babe in tow!
Except that, induction isn't that easy. There are so many additional risks and downsides to consider about induction. It's important for you to know the truths about induction before considering it an "easy" option. In fact, many OBs, midwives, and practices have put a halt on elective inductions (inductions performed without medical reason) due to the hard evidence shown about the risks. Most all practices have put a stop to inductions performed before 39 weeks, as the research is clear about the importance of waiting until 39 weeks of baby's development before birth. But even after 39 weeks, there are complications associated with induction. Let's take a look at the facts:
- Additional medical interventions (IV, pain medication, Pitocin, continuous fetal monitoring, restricted movement)
- Stress on baby
- Pain for mother
- A very long labor
- Premature birth (due dates are just an estimate; you could be giving birth too early)
- Baby needing NICU
When Your Care Provider Suggests Induction
Maybe you're not hoping for induction, even though you're due on November 23. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon to feel pressured into an induction by your care provider around this time of year. Red flags to look for include:
- Provider suggests that baby is too big and will be easier to deliver "a little early" (suspected big baby is not a medical reason for induction)
- Care provider says she won't be available on Thanksgiving, but will be there a few days before if you want her present for your birth
- Care provider talks about induction as a way to end pregnancy discomfort, schedule around travel, etc., without reviewing the risks/drawbacks
Questions to Ask
If you find yourself questioning whether induction is being suggested for the right reasons, ask questions. Remember, you are the patient and it is your right to take control of the decisions made about your care. Ask the following:
- Is there a medical reason to induce labor?
- Are there non-medical alternatives I can try to speed labor along?
- Am I in immediate danger if I don’t go into labor now?
- Is my baby in immediate danger if I don’t go into labor now?
- How ready is my body for induction? (Ask about your Bishop score)
- What does the research say about the risks for induction?
- Do I need to make a decision now or can I wait?
What Others Say About Induction
You can take my word for it about not taking induction lightly. You can also read about the experiences of many other women who have gone through it with. I imagine that you may also know a handful (or more) of people who have experienced induction. Ask them to tell you their stories -- what they wished they would have known, if they'd do it over again. Of course, not everyone has a negative induction experience -- some would do it again in a heartbeat! But the problem with induction, however, is that there's no secret formula to success. Read through the following links to get other perspectives, and then decide for yourself. Once you've been fully informed, and have had an open discussion with your provider, you will be empowered to make the safest, healthiest choice for you and your baby.