The (Not-So) Secret Truth to Holiday Labour Inductions
What is an induction of labour?
Inducing labour is the act of encouraging labour to begin by using means of medical interventions and techniques that are usually performed by a medical professional. Inductions used to be routine procedures done to help along the labour of birthing people, but research has shown that most times, there is no medical need for induction if the birthing person is presenting as a low-risk pregnancy and they can wait for labour to begin on its own.
A few types of labour inductions include:
What’s a holiday labour induction?
The holiday labour inductions are inductions that are conveniently (and often times strategically) planned right before a major holiday. The reason? So that your care provider won’t be on-call during the holidays and can rest easy knowing that you’re out of their hands. Sounds harsh, huh? Unfortunately, it’s the truth.
This chart was introduced to us in 2013 by NPR. The darker the dots, the more birthdays and subsequently, the lighter the dots, the less birthdays. As you can see, there are rarely any births around December 25th or January 1st. This isn’t a coincidence. In fact, it was stated that December 25th and January 1st are the least common birthdays in the world.
Note: I don’t want to take away from the fact that there might very well be a valid reason as to why you need an induction. However, I’m all for asking all the questions and making sure all of the information is available to you. Keep in mind: if you’re low risk and there have been no concerns about your pregnancy, but suddenly the topic of induction is being brought up – ask your questions to make sure you’re making an informed decision.
The questions you can ask can be as simple as:
Why do I need this?
What happens if I don’t get an induction
And my favourite question to ask when they try to fear monger my clients that their/baby’s life would be in danger if they choose not to have an induction:
Can you show me the facts that my life/my baby’s life would be in danger if I elect not to have an induction?
If they can’t show up with the facts – dig deeper. Not sure how to move forward? Call a trusted person, for example a doula, to go over the options with you.
What might health providers say to convince me to be induced?
“You’re approaching your due date”
Due dates are estimates. There’s no guarantee that the baby will come on the specific date given to you. Unless there are valid medical concerns, approaching a due date isn’t a valid reason why someone needs to be induced.
“You’re past your due date”
Often times, folks will actually give birth during the 41 - 42 week mark – especially if this is their first time baby. There are some folks who will go all the way to 43 weeks! Going past a due date is no indication of needing an induction. The baby will come. If you’re not in danger or there are no complications, it’s safe to say that you can wait it out.
“Your baby is measuring too big”
A baby measuring too big is actually quite rare. You may know it as macrosomia. However, it’s important to point out that rarely is there a baby too big to be birthed through the birth canal as there are 5 moveable plates in the baby’s skull and the pelvis shifts and changes to make room for the baby. Also, if the provider tells you they can tell the baby’s weight from the ultrasound, just keep in mind that ultrasounds are off by 2-3 pounds and usually babies measure much smaller than what is stated during the exam.
“If you don’t have an induction by (this date), your life/baby’s life will be danger”
Woah woah – let’s pause! This is a really big claim to be making. It’s important to ask all the questions if they decide to put this tactic on you. Fear mongering is a really effective way health providers can manipulate folks into making decisions that don’t actually benefit you. If you’ve been low risk all of this time, but they suddenly mention that your life/baby’s life is in danger and can’t give you concrete reason as to why… err on the side of suspicious. Get a second opinion, a third opinion even!
“This is a routine procedure”
So? Doesn’t mean you have to do it if you don’t want to.
“Your risks are higher the longer you wait”
Time haste is also another tactic of fear mongering from healthcare providers. They’ll act as if there’s no time to waste and if you don’t do it now, you’re in danger moving forward. If you suspect you’re being hustled into a decision, step away. Call a trusted care person and walk through the options with them. Take your time.
“It’s easier this way”
For who? For you? Or for the healthcare provider?
What can I do to avoid being holiday inducted?
Ask all the questions
Learn alternative ways to induce labour without needing medical interventions like using birth balls, nipple stimulation (for the oxytocin release), drinking red raspberry leaf tea, etc.
Hire a doula who can go through these options and talk through decisions with you
Have lengthy conversations with your healthcare provider and ask them to walk you through the options – note that many inductions are often gateways to medical interventions during labour and research shows that induction often leads to belly births (c-sections), so make sure to bring this up to your doctor too. Show them that you know your stuff!
If you’re low risk, know that you have time and you shouldn’t be pushed into a decision by fear mongering techniques like time constraints, telling you you/baby is in danger, etc.
It’s your decision.
I have much to say on the topic of busting the myths that the Medical Industrial Complex imposes on us, and a lot of the times, it might feel as if we rarely have any power over the decisions being made – but I just want to remind you – yes you do. You have agency over your body. Your decisions come first and are the most important. Stay informed, ask all the questions, disrupt the systems, and demand the best for yourself – because you absolutely deserve it.