Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Natural" Induction

A lot of natural minded women cringe when they hear about induction in the hospital. Most have strong opinions on why induction can be harmful to baby and mom, and try to stay away from it as long as they can, or until it is absolutely necessary.

And yet, when women start nearing the end of pregnancy, it seems like *all* women start to throw around their "natural" techniques to starting labor.

It's as if people don't realize that induction is still induction, even if it has the word "natural" before it.

I've seen women that were "naturally induced" with previous babies. One was induced with herbs and ended up having her labor stall because the herbs were the only thing keeping it going. She had to be transfered from the home birth she planned and augmented with pitocin and needed a very traumatizing vacuum delivery. With her next birth she was terrified her body didn't know what to do because it "failed" the first time.

I've seen women that are staunchly against induction in the hospital jump at the option of stripping membranes and guzzling castor oil because it didn't involve medication and is a great natural option.

Here's the thing. You are still trying to induce labor whether you are using herbs, sex, vitamins, or exercise. The entire basis of induction is the intent behind it. When you induce, whether naturally or medically, you are trying to coax on labor so you have a baby in the near future.

You are telling your body it needs to be done when it isn't ready to be.

In essence, you are undermining your confidence in yourself and taking for granted the natural process that you claim to love.

There are so many little things that all end up coming together to help a woman believe in herself and in her ability to birth her child. One look can make you question your decision. One touch can mean the difference between a loving, peaceful experience and one shrouded in fear and pain.

When you tell a woman that she should have more sex or she should walk more or she should start on this herb because that is what started your labor, you are telling her that it is okay to think her body won't go into labor on its own and it needs a little bit of a jump start.

For a lot of women, that's fine. They are tired and cranky and just want to be done being pregnant. They take all this advice and pray that what you told them will work because they just want to hold their baby.

But amidst all of these women, there are some that question their body and its ability, even if they believe in the birth process. There are some women that are terrified that their bodies won't know what to do, that their bodies need that help, especially if they have trauma from another birth.

When you tell women, even jokingly, that such and such technique helped start your labor and they would love it because it is natural, you plant a little seed in their thoughts. You make them wonder if they should be taking herbs and vitamins and having sex more. You make them wonder if because they aren't doing that, they are doing something wrong.

It is just like asking if a woman feels like pushing in labor. If you ask, she wonders if she does. And if she doesn't feel like it, she wonders if she should. And if she starts to wonder, she loses faith in not only her body, but in her decision.

Natural induction is still induction. You are still trying to do something your body isn't ready to do. And the thing is, most natural induction techniques won't work unless your body is about to start labor anyway.

Why not spend a little more time enjoying the kicks and rolls and feel of your baby? Why not spend some time with your husband and children before you add another person? Why not just enjoy it for what it is?

Because in the end, you will not be pregnant forever.


TheFeministBreeder said... [Reply to comment]

Since there's really no such thing as "natural" induction, I've come to call it "non-medical." I agree that babies need to stay put until they say otherwise, but there are some very legitimate reasons to engage the non-medical methods in some cases. I've seen women who, for real medical reasons, require a medical induction, and in that instance using the "non-medical" methods first can help (at least, hopefully) ripen her cervix before the Pitocin is started, which will raise her Bishop's score and hopefully increase the effectiveness of the induction. (jeez, longest paragraph ever.)

In my state, homebirth midwives are bound by a written collaborative agreement with a physician, and most MD's "require" that the mother be delivered before 42 weeks, otherwise she gets risked out of homebirth. My midwife will be a little "flexible" with the dates, but there's not much wiggle room. I really hope it doesn't come down to that for me, but if I have to choose between non-medical induction techniques, or losing my homebirth, I'm going with the former. It really SUCKS that that even has to be an issue though. I agree, the body is ready when the body is ready, and not a minute sooner. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way within our current medical system, and we have to do the best we can with what we have.

brandi said... [Reply to comment]

As a doula, this is one of the hardest things I can help a family understand. Natural is Natural there's no natural way to speed things alone :( Your body will do what it is ment to do at the time it is ment to do it.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

It enrages me how the medical system continues to dictate when babies are supposed to be born and denies women their right to birth where they will if they pass some pre-determined gestational date. It is completely absurd. Any birth attendant that tells their patient that they won't help them if they go postdates is only perpetuating the fear of needing to induce and birth a baby at a specific time, against the woman's body signals. Although I understand the legal implications, as long as women choose to induce themselves in order to appease their bullying midwives and doctors, how is the system going to change? And with that, people wonder why so many more women are choosing to freebirth.

Brenda said... [Reply to comment]

So serious question- Should I not have sex the last month of pregnancy? I secretly hoped last time that sex would speed up the dd due date (and it did). So because I wanted it to work does that mean then that I induced myself?

Kayce Pearson said... [Reply to comment]

I think you would have gone into labor either way Brenda. You were already almost 5cm. But for most, the intent is what makes it induction. If you had sex specifically to induce yourself, then sure. If you had sex because it's fun and there might be a possibility you would go into labor, no. And, one of the big parts of sex for induction is orgasm mixed with the cervix softening qualities of sperm.

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