Most pregnant women naturally go into labor around the 39th week, which is considered a full term, or between the 37th and 41st week of pregnancy. However, when one shows no signs that the baby is coming out and it is past her due date already (post-term at 42 weeks or more), the doctor may consider inducing labor, whether via natural ways or otherwise.
There are some circumstances, however, where doctors will decide to induce labor even if you're not yet full term, according to What To Expect When You're Expecting. These are:
1. Your water bag has ruptured or is leaking, and contractions haven't started. Once the water bag breaks or leaks, it leaves your baby more exposed to infection, so you will need to deliver as soon as possible.
2. Your placenta is no longer functioning properly, or your amniotic fluid levels are already low. Both play vital roles in the normal flow of nutrients, blood, and oxygen to your baby.
3. You have pregnancy complications. Having twins or multiples, and pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, (high blood pressure during pregnancy) may adversely affect you and your baby.
4. Your baby is not thriving in your womb and is already mature enough to be delivered. (Your doctor may want to prevent your baby from pooping inside your womb, which can lead to complications).
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If you need to be induced there are four ways to do it:
Amniotomy - a doctor breaks your water bag using a sterile instrument shaped like a hook.
Ripening the cervix - a prostaglandin gel or a balloon-like catheter is inserted into your cervix.
Membrane sweep - a doctor inserts a gloved finger to separate your cervix from the tissue around your baby’s head (yes, it can be painful!)
Artificial induction - you are given synthetic hormone oxytocin to stimulate labor contractions.
Risks and complications can arise when inducing labor. Some methods can cause overstimulation and cause the uterus to contract too frequently. Too many contractions can lead to changes in the baby's heart rate and umbilical cord problems.
Other risks include infection in the mother or baby, rupture of the uterus, and fetal death. It also increases a pregnant woman's chances to deliver via a C-section.
When you reach full term in your pregnancy, there is a point when you cannot wait to pop. That restlessness makes it tempting to ask your doctor to induce you to go into labor (not that he will do just because you ask). But leaving the birthing process undisturbed to run its course is the still ideal way to welcome a baby into this world. You've already waited almost nine months for your baby. What's a few more days, right?