I feel the need to provide a disclaimer before I delve into this topic. I am not saying all doctors, midwives, or other medical staff are bad. There are definitely a lot of really great medical personnel out there. But just like anything in life, there are always a few bad apples.
I believe women (actually any person) should be able to whole-heartedly trust their doctors. We want to believe our doctor is doing what is in our best interest – and they should be. But I don’t think it’s a secret that there are doctors that sometimes do things in their own best interest. The question is: how do you know? As a non-medical person, how does one know their doctor is top-notch, and not suggesting every intervention, hoping for another nickel in their pocket, or hoping to be out on the golf course in an hour?
Of course, the obvious response here is: talk about your options with your doula from The Happiest Doulas, and we will do everything we can to help you achieve the beautiful birth you want and deserve. But equally as important is to be educated. You don’t need a nursing degree or a medical license to make important medical decisions, but you do need at least a pretty basic understanding of some of the top decision areas. And for everything else, ask lots of questions. Specifically, discuss the B-A-R with your provider: benefits, alternatives, and risks. When discussing pros and cons about procedures (especially induction) a great question for your provider is, “What research do you have about that topic?” or, “Where can we get more research-based information about that to help us make a decision?”
I’ve written before about inductions, but this is a topic that comes up a LOT in my classes. Plus, it’s the topic that really gets me started, gets me up on my high horse, my soap box… and it is hhhaarrrddd for me to get off it! “My doctor wants me to have another ultrasound next week because the baby is measuring big,” – and as a bonus to that one, “And if I don’t deliver by my due date, the doctor wants to induce me.” “My doctor said my amniotic fluid level is low.” “My doctor told me I need an induction because I conceived through IVF.” Ok, well, I don’t actually know what the literature says specifically about IVF, but just in my personal OPINION, it doesn’t make sense to me.
"I whole-heartedly believe in inductions for medical reasons for mom or baby’s health." - tweet this!
Let’s talk about the reasons for induction, though. There are actual medical reasons for induction, and I whole-heartedly believe in inductions for medical reasons for mom or baby’s health. What I don’t believe in is disguising a convenient induction in medical terminology. Here are some medical reasons for induction, according to ACOG: pregnancy that continues 1-2 weeks past the estimated due date, high blood pressure, uncontrolled gestational diabetes, an infection in the uterus, or a baby who is not growing properly (IUGR). This list is not completely exhaustive, but “big baby” and even “low amniotic fluid” (by itself) are not included in the list of medical reasons for induction.
I’ll discuss those two things in a later post, but for now, let’s discuss induction for postdates (going past your due date). Do you know what “EDC” or “EDD” stands for? Both start with E for estimated. (EDC stands for “estimated date of confinement”, in case you didn’t know.) A point I made in one of my classes recently was this: do you always have a 28-day cycle? Do you know, for a fact, that you ovulated on day 14 when you got pregnant? Do you know, for a fact, the exact date you conceived? (Ok, so some can truthfully say ‘yes’ here.) So, I went on to say: Did you all walk at 12 months? Did you all crawl at 7 months? Did you all roll over at 3 months? My point is that just as we all grow and develop at different rates Earth-side, so too do our babies grow and develop at different rates in the womb.
Due dates are calculated based on an archaic formula, called Naegele’s Rule, which assumes every woman has a 28-day cycle. Even then, the man behind Naegele’s Rule, Frederich Naegele, was not the original “inventor” of “how to estimate the length of human gestation.” It was an 18th-century professor of botany and medicine, Hermann Boerhaave, who developed the formula. Am I the only person who thinks this whole business of calculating a due date deserves a little more visitation by the research and medical community?!
Many Are Mislabeled as "Post-Term"
I do a lot of reading to keep up with the newest information. One of my favorite places to get information is from Evidence Based Birth. Rebecca Dekker, the author, just published a very extensive article on the evidence for inducing for going past your due date. She touches on Naegele’s Rule as well, but one thing she wrote really struck me. She wrote, “using the LMP [last menstrual period] to estimate your due date makes it more likely that you will be mislabeled as “post-term” and experience an unnecessary induction.” The reason for this is just as I stated above: not everyone’s cycles are cookie-cutter perfect! Even if a woman does ovulate on day 14, if she conceives that month, the embryo may not implant for several days! I was so thrilled for this article to come out, I wish everyone could take the time to read it word-for-word; however, I realize it is lengthy. I encourage you to skim it, and if nothing else, read the section “What’s the bottom line?” found at the end of the article.
"If a woman ovulates on day 14, and conceives that month, the embryo may not implant for several days." - tweet this!
So that you have more time to read that very important article, I’ll go ahead and end now. I hope this has given you some valuable information and resources. Next up, I’ll discuss why doctors induce for “big baby” and low amniotic fluid, so come back soon!