Preparing For Birth: Labor Induction Myths

It never ceases to amaze me why women are induced for labor.   I have compiled a list of commonly heard “reason” for an induction occurring.  Interestingly none among them is true.  The true reasons for induction is a very short list (shown at the end of the post) and only a small percentage of women will fall into those categories.  So all you pregnant mamas out there, induction beware because you may have something listed below said to you.

Compilation of “reasons” for induction:

  • My doctor says I have a small vagina.
  • My husband can’t miss any school or he gets kicked out (heard from both Police Academy AND Fire Academy wives).
  • I have already met my deductible for my insurance this year. Don’t want to have to start over again.
  • I want the tax deduction this year.
  • Because my doctor is going out of town.
  • Anesthesia allergy:  She ended up with an epidural, and then a c-section.
  • You are an older mother and your baby will die if you are not delivered by 39 weeks.
  • You are very small and there is no way you can birth a baby past 40 weeks or 7 lbs.
  • Your feet are very small.
  • Your amniotic level is really low. Only an 8 AFI at 41 weeks.
  • doc: “your first labor was pretty fast so let’s go ahead and induce you so you don’t end up having the baby on the highway on your way in”
  • I was told induction was recommended at 41 weeks because the placenta starts to deteriorate and stops working. Tell it to my 41 +4 day baby. I guess she was living on borrowed time those 4 extra days.
  • Doc to mom “I am going on vacation and you want me there for sure for your delivery!” Mom is 39 weeks.
  • To avoid a cesarean.
  • To avoid an epidural.
  • The pitocin is JUST like you make so it makes no difference.
  • It is completely safe.
  • You have a 50 minute drive to the hospital – it’ll save you the stress of worrying about making it in time. (First time mom)
  • My family is coming from out of town and I want to know when to tell them to be here.
  • I’m GBS positive and they want to make sure they get all of my antibiotics administered before I deliver…
  • It is a holiday weekend.
  • Baby is getting too big!
  • Because my husband works 30 minutes away and if I have a fast labor he might not make it in time!
  • Because I’m going to have a ‘huge’ 8 lb. baby.
  • Because I’m a teacher and I want as much time as possible with the baby so I’ll get induced earlier in the summer….
  • Because after 37 weeks, there is no benefit to staying in–the baby doesn’t do anything except gain weight (that one from a doctor!)
  • Low-fluid levels.
  • Way too far past your expiration, I mean “estimated due date.”
  • Too big for gestation.
  • Too SMALL for gestation.
  • Because you are so tired.
  • Because you look miserable.
  • Vacation times not congruent with labor patterns.
  • So you can pick your baby’s birthday.
  • So you can plan ahead.
  • Because it is more convenient.
  • Since you are planning the epidural anyway.
  • Because it is easier.
  • Because there is no risk.

Mother beware!  There are only truly a small amount of reasons evidence shows for an induction to take place.

  • Uterine infection
  • True pre-eclampsia
  • Prolonged rupture of membranes (longer than 48-72 hours)
  • True labor dystocia
  • Post dates past 42 weeks*
  • diabetes (gestational included) if compromising fetal or maternal health

Without the true need for induction the likelihood of cesarean nearly doubles.  Some of the risks or consequences of any induction include:  more need for an epidural, overly strong contractions, failure of induction, distressed baby, distressed mother, placental abruption, continuous monitoring, lack of mobility, the feeling of illness, longer labor, very fast labor, traumatic labor and delivery, and IV fluids.

In the event the word induction is brought up, the mother needs to be aware of the common yet myth filled reasons behind it and that it is alright to say no.  The mother ultimately is responsible for the outcomes.  She and her baby have to live with the results.  Waiting for baby to press start in the absence of medical need for induction, is nearly always the best way to go for mom and baby.

*If a woman knows exactly when she conceived and estimated due date is not solely based on ultrasound and guessing, fits the “average” menstrual and ovulation cycle length, and if she does not have a family history of post 42 weels and beyond pregnancies this can be reasonable.


  1. Birth In Joy on September 11, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    This is wonderful, Desirre.

  2. maria on September 16, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Would you explain induction for labor dystocia? Thanks!

    • admin on September 16, 2009 at 9:01 pm

      This would be when an established labor has truly gone from progressing to stalling after attempting to get it going again with any or some of the following (though the list could be much more vast): rest, hydration, nutrition, urination, position changes, visualization, naturally increasing oxytocin by natural means…. Usually it would mean beginning Pitocin via IV drip and perhaps artificially breaking the water.

      Does this answer the question? If not, email me back.

  3. maria on September 16, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Thanks for clarifying.
    I am wondering, what would be contra-indicated for leaving things be? Would the length of the rest depend on hospital policy if the vital signs were otherwise normal? A mom could even go home perhaps? How far into labor are we talking about as far as dilation? And does it even matter?

    • admin on September 17, 2009 at 5:26 pm

      It is completely dependent on the specifics of that labor for mom and baby. If mom and baby are doing well – then leaving well enough alone is often no problem as women experience natural alignment plateaus. Sometimes fear, surroundings, baby position, or another issue altogether. Also knowing whether or not labor was truly lasting labor makes a difference. Do you have a specific detailed circumstance in question?

  4. maria on September 17, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    No, I was just wondering about why something is called dystocia or stalled labor, when it seems to me these things are mainly another variation of labor unless something indicates otherwise. It is however not treated as such in most cases, and I am wondering about the reasoning behind induction in the case of dystocia because often times the respite is what is needed for baby to align. Interesting You tube video came my way today:–fIZAo

    • admin on September 19, 2009 at 9:21 am

      More than not is is a N.A.P. and needs nothing more than patience, positioning, and peace. It still needs to be looked at in a multi-faceted way IMHO. Is it emotionally based? Say laboring mother fears transition or doesn’t like the provider or staff who is treating her? She doesn’t feel safe in the environment. Something is stalling her labor beyond a normal physiologic adaptation. Does she have scar tissue on her cervix from a surgery or previous sexually transmitted infection so she isn’t externally dilating? There are so many other things to look at first prior to opting for pitocin use or AROM. Also there are other options to get labor going again — sexual contact, using a breast pump under monitoring to release oxytocin naturally, massage, shower or tub, use of aromatherapy, sleeping, etc.

  5. maria on September 19, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Yes, indeed!

    Thanks 🙂

  6. Elizabeth on October 10, 2009 at 4:40 am

    What about diabetes? I was looking for it on the lists here and could not find it. Diabetes (both gestational and pre-existing) is very often cited by doctors as making induction “medically necessary”. (Gestational, for fear of big baby; and pre-existing for fear of placental demise in addition to big baby.)

    I’m interested to know which list diabetes belongs on: “reasons” for induction, or reasons evidence shows for induction. I really can’t tell, but certainly hear it A LOT! Both my diabetic cousins had failed inductions / c-sections before 39 weeks. It is a story repeated often: Type 1 diabetics have a 50% c-section rate in the U.S.! I’m diabetic, too, so am wondering how valid that pervasive “medically necessary due to diabetes” reason is.