Last night I began reading Jennifer Block’s Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care. It is well-written and clear, with compelling stories about real births too. Block cites the information she shares in detail in her book, so you can look up any studies or reports of interest. The first chapter,”Arranged Birth” examines the subject of induction in detail, with interesting perspectives from nurses and doctors too.
According to the CDC, the induction rate was under 10% in 2004 (Block, p. 5). Contrast that with 40% induced into labor and 70% receiving Pitocin during labor to speed up progression in 2006, according to a study of 5500 low-risk, first-time mothers (p. 5-6). Pitocin is a hormone-mimicking drug that stimulates contractions and is commonly used to induce labor.
Why are doctors recommending inductions and women agreeing in such drastically increasing numbers? There are any number of official reasons that a woman may be given when an induction is ordered. We’ll look at these in more detail next week. But, before we get bogged down in medical debate, take a step back and ask yourself this: Do you think our ability to give birth, to progress in labor has drastically changed in the last 6 years? Or, could it be, that it’s just more convenient for mothers and doctors to induce? In America, isn’t convenience king? We want to do the best for ourselves, for our babies, but when something is touted as pretty safe, easier, more convenient for everyone, will mom say “no”? Judging by the popularity of fast food, obviously not.
It is convenient, but is it safe? Is it wise? Here’s an excerpt from Pushed, beginning with a quote from Kathleen Rice Simpson, PHD:
“‘I firmly believe that mothers are not informed enough to know that this is not a good idea, and that any woman who has the right information would not want to have her baby induced.’ Inducing tends to create longer, more difficult, more painful labors in general, and it ups a woman’s chance of a C-section by two to three times.” (p. 14)
But who is this Simpson? She’ s only a professor of nursing at St. Louis University School of Nursing, a labor and delivery nurse of 30 years, author of dozens of journal articles, conductor of several studies, author of safety manuals for the American Society of Healthcare Risk Management, the American Hospital Association, the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses, etc. She claims that liberal use of Pitocin to start and speed up labor often violates safety standards and is under-reported. “Mismanagement of Pitocin, she says, is the leading cause of liability suits and damage awards” (p. 14).
So if Pitocin is the most common mistake doctors make, why do we feel so at ease to induce labor for convenience? If this is beginning to bother you, you’re not alone. That’s why Jennifer Block subtitled her book “The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care.” A mama ought to be informed. More on induction next week!