Should Expectant Moms Be Discouraged From Inducing Labor?

6 years ago

Are you pregnant and living in Minnesota? Guess what: if you find yourself wanting to induce your labor, you might be up against some obstacles, because the state of Minnesota would really prefer that you not do that, thank you very much. It's poised to pass legislation requiring expectant mothers to fill out extensive paperwork if they want to be induced, in an effort to reduce the rate of induced labors in that state.

To be clear, they want to impose this requirement upon women who seek induction before they've reached 39 weeks of pregnancy, and not on the poor women who (like me with my first child) find themselves 41 weeks pregnant and 190lbs and JUST TOTALLY DONE WITH IT ALL. According to one report:

Induced labors have tripled since 1990, partly because they allow doctors and mothers to schedule a birth in advance. But experts say there are health risks associated with not letting a baby stay in the womb for 39 weeks. And groups like the March for Dimes recommend letting a pregnancy go the full 40 weeks whenever possible. And more than just convenience, experts say some women want to induce their pregnancies to avoid giving birth to say a Scorpio instead of a Libra.

I'm not a fan of the practice of 'scheduling' deliveries; babies, after all, are not FedEx packages. And any woman who thinks that her life will be made easier by having her baby this week instead of that week is in for a cruel shock once the baby arrives. Babies don't do schedules. And they're in it for life. Or, at least, what feels like life when you're up at 3 a.m. for the billionteenth night in a row. And trust me: this is true regardless of whether that baby is a Scorpio or a Libra. Astrology does not explain sleep regressions.

Nurse Conducting Ultrasound Examination

That said, I'm a little uncomfortable with the idea of the government telling women how to have their babies. Sure, we should be concerned about increasing rates of unnecessary c-sections and inductions, but shouldn't we start with doctors having conversations with their patients about all of the very good reasons to not have unnecessary c-sections and inductions? And shouldn't we allow some space for women to determine their own needs v.v. childbirth? Scheduling things so that you can control your child's astrological chart is, of course, absurd, but women don't asked to be induced just for frivolous reasons. When I was pregnant with Jasper, I begged to be induced or to be given a c-section, because Jasper was measuring in at 9 and a half pounds when I was - as best my doctor and I could figure out, because due dates can be notoriously difficult to pin down - not quite 38 weeks pregnant. I was miserable, and terrified that I was going to have to force a 12 pound behemoth out of my nethers - if, that is, I didn't collapse and die under his weight before he decided to emerge. And as it happened, his labor was terrifying and difficult and much of that might have avoided if his delivery had been scheduled and managed.

Obviously, these things can be difficult to sort out. Some expectant mothers that ask to be induced will do so for reasons of convenience or astrology. Others won't, but perhaps the requirement of paperwork is a reasonable step toward separating out those who are making frivolous requests and those who are not and determining their real needs. And perhaps that requirement will serve to promote more and better discussion between women and their doctors about the process of childbirth. That, I can get behind. But I still worry about the slight finger-waggy quality of this kind of initiative, the underlying suggestion that women tend toward frivolity and don't know what's best for them and do need need to be better 'managed.'

I don't know. What do you think?

Catherine Connors blogs at Her Bad Mother and Their Bad Mother and The Bad Moms Club, and everywhere in between. She is totally not a mommy blogger, except when she is.

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