How to Avoid an Induction of Labor

Real moms provide tips for avoiding induction of labor

pregnant woman in hospital bed
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The induction of labor, or starting labor artificially, is fairly common. Rates of induction have been steadily climbing as more and more social inductions (inductions for non-medical reasons) are done. These can happen for the convenience of the doctor, midwife, or family; changing due dates, or other reasons. The truth is that induction of labor increases complication rates, including the use of cesarean section, which nearly doubles when induction is used.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) lists three major reasons to induce labor:

  1. Maternal illness (high blood pressure, diabetes, uterine infection, etc.)
  2. Fetal illness
  3. 42 completed weeks of gestation

In addition to these recommendations, ACOG also says that inductions without medical indication should not happen prior to 39 weeks gestation. There are simply too many risks to the baby prior to that timing.

So what can you do to avoid an induction? Here's how some other moms have handled this.

Communicate With Your Doctor

"I think having a good relationship with your obstetrician is crucial. It also depends on the reasoning for the induction. With my second child, my OB's partner was on call when my labs came back for preeclampsia. My blood pressure was trending up, and there was protein in my urine. The partner called me and wanted to induce the next morning. I was upset, and I had a long talk with him telling him I wanted a VBAC and inducing would reduce my chances of being successful. He kept insisting, then we argued about the magnesium. I didn't want it, he did. He wanted me to come in at seven the next morning.

"Around nine p.m., I insisted on having intercourse with my husband. Labor started at midnight, and I delivered at four a.m., vaginally, without magnesium. Later I spoke with my OB, and he said he would not have induced me, nor would he have used magnesium. I am a physician as well so I understand that so much of medicine is an art, and you do things based on your past experiences and overall knowledge and comfort level. Everyone practices differently, so it's important to be on the same page as your provider."
Heide, mother and physician

"I avoided induction by being very well informed and making sure I kept up the lines of communication with my doctor. I had had an induction for medical reasons with my first, and I told my doctor from the outset with my second that I did not want another induction unless it was medically necessary.

"My first induction was from low amniotic fluid in the 39th week. So, this time around, I drank 90 ounces of water a day instead of the 70 I drank with my first. My doctor said that would help make sure fluid levels stayed normal, which they did. Mainly, though, when I went past my due date, I made sure my doctor knew that I still didn't want an induction. He's been known to induce on the due date if the mother so desires, and I wanted to let him know that I did not so desire. He was very supportive, and I finally delivered at 40 weeks and 5 days."
Amanda, mother of two

Decline Unnecessary Ultrasounds

"I think one of the best ways to avoid induction is to avoid unnecessary ultrasounds in the final months. My last pregnancy I had to have an ultrasound two times a week for the last three months. Having small babies like I do, I just knew the doctors would want an induction. They did. I seriously contemplated not showing up for the induction. It's hard not to, because you do want to have the baby as soon as possible. Doctors seem to get it into their heads that the (ultrasound) measurements in the last trimester are accurate, when they are known to have a variable of one to two pounds."
Dawn, mother of three

Check Caregivers' Induction Rates

"I think the first step is choosing a caregiver that has an extremely low induction rate. If it isn't normal for them, they won't consider it normal for you, and the odds of it only being discussed for a sound medical reason are much better."
Diane, mother of two

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Article Sources

  • Practice Bulletin #107, Induction of Labor. Obstet Gynecol. 2009;114:386-397.