Dear Diary,

Wouldn’t it be nice to pick your baby’s due date? Maybe you want your little girl to share a Born Day with your late, great-grandmother. Or perhaps you want your son to celebrate his life with his father. Or maybe, you’re just sick and tired of being sick and tired. Well, some moms-to-be, along with their doctors, pick the date their bundle of joy will arrive by scheduling an induction. But being induced isn’t always the healthiest and safest choice for you and your baby. So before you make a decision to speed up the pregnancy process, I caught up with Dr. Draion Burch, a.k.a. Dr. Drai the Baby Catcher. He is an Attending OBGYN Physician at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Magee Women’s Hospital. We discussed inducing labor and why and when it is necessary.

Dr. Renee: When should you wait to induce labor?

Dr. Drai: First off, that word simply means we give you medication, or just do something, to start your labor for you. At 39 weeks gestational age, we know your baby’s lungs are mature, so it’s safe for your doctor or midwife to induce you just because (electively). I’m strict though. I like the bun to bake a little longer. I offer elective inductions between 41-42 weeks. I wait to see if your body is going to go into labor naturally.

Dr. Renee: Who is a good candidate for labor induction?

Dr. Drai: You must have a favorable cervix, meaning if induced you will deliver through the vagina. If your cervix is dilated to more than five centimeters, soft, located in the front of the vagina, thinned out  more than 80percent, and the baby’s head is low, you are a great candidate.

Dr. Renee: Why isn’t intervention for everyone?

Dr. Drai: If your cervix isn’t favorable, your provider won’t recommend an induction, because that would put you at risk for having to get a C-section. Also if you have a placenta previa, placenta covering the cervix, a transverse (flipped) baby, more than two C-sections, have herpes,  or a vertical cut on the uterus, you need a C-section.

Dr. Renee: Why would someone need to be induced?

Dr. Drai: You need to be induced if there is some risk to your baby.

  • Diabetes;
  • Hypertension;
  • Intrauterine Growth Restriction (too small babies);
  • Lupus;
  • Kidney Disease;
  • or Thyroid disease…the list goes on.

Dr. Renee: Some women have said they got induced, because they were uncomfortable at the end of their pregnancy or didn’t want to get stretch marks (i.e. celebrities). How long should a woman go past her due date?

Dr. Drai: You can’t go more than 2 weeks past your due date. I would tell those women that pregnancy is uncomfortable, and your stretch marks are already there. Like I tell the ladies in the office, pregnancy is a temporary condition–not a disease.

Dr. Renee: Are there risks to inducing labor? Can you induce labor naturally? If so, how?

Dr. Drai: The risks depend on what medications or techniques are used to induce you. Oxytocin, prostaglandins or nipple stimulation can make contractions come too quickly and stress out the baby. Having your water broken for too long can put you at risk for infection in the uterus. Stripping the membranes is pretty safe. There is some belief that sex can move the process along. Semen has prostaglandins in it, so it can ripen the cervix. Nipple stimulation may also help. It causes uterine contractions. Please no castor oil though. I have had several patients tell me that their girlfriends tried that to induce labor and it does not work. It causes diarrhea!

Hey DFTM Fam–Did you schedule an induction? Why did you choose to take matters into your hands? Or did you not have a choice at all?

Meanwhile, Please visit Dr. Drai‘s website and watch his Medical T videos. And do not hesitate to ask us questions on Twitter: @DrDraiOBGYN and @AskDrRenee.