The cascade of intervention
I’m angry, I’m sad, I am frustrated as hell! I want to scream from the rooftops in complete and utter disgust for the misinformation women receive from Doctors regarding ignoring the spontaneous actions that occur in the natural process of childbirth. “Let’s induce you and get things going,” “You’ll be holding your baby within an hour if you let me…” Here it comes. Yes, here comes my stance on inductions for non-medical reasons. Here come the facts. The things your Doctor doesn’t tell you!
A due date is an estimated due date and can be off by as much as 2 weeks (in either direction – early or late). Women need to be prepared for what may happen during an induction. First of all, breaking your water will not speed anything along unless you are already in a good pattern of labor. So more than likely the Doc will break your water then want to give you drugs to force your body to have contractions (these drugs WILL NOT dilate your cervix). The drugs they use to induce labor only cause contractions, they do not dilate the cervix (which is what has to happen in order for the baby to come out). There is a risk of your baby going into distress from strong, chemically induced contractions without dilating. Babies will only be able to withstand chemically induced contractions for so long before it stresses their little system. You are putting your birth on a time table by agreeing to an induction. Once your water is broken you have roughly 12 hours (I believe it is 12 hours at most hospitals but it may be 24) to have your baby. If you haven’t had your baby within 12-24hrs hours they call it “failure to progress” and will perform a major abdominal surgery to remove them and call it an “emergency” even though they caused it by artificially breaking your water and trying to force your body into something it wasn’t ready to do.
Most Docs tell you they will induce you because it is easier for them - NOT for you. And that’s what’s up ladies. Birth is easier for them when they are in control.
So now in “labor” with artificial contractions you will more than likely receive pain management drugs because chemically induced contractions are much stronger and harder than the contractions the body naturally produces. The method used for relief will most likely be a catheter placed in your spinal cord, also known as the epidural.
I just want to say here that I am all about an informed decision. Every woman has the right to decide for herself how she chooses to birth her baby. But I have heard WAY too many stories from mothers saying their doctor never discussed these risks with them so I am putting it out there for all the world to see.
There are risks involved with the placement of a catheter into your spine (epidural). Yes it is common, yes it happens everyday but it is not without serious risks to you and your child!! Here are some things the doctors may not discuss with you before offering up this drug to you as if it were a simple Aspirin or Tylenol.
The epidural can cause permanent numbness in your back and other parts of your body. It, like the induction drugs can also cause fetal heart rate decelerations (fetal distress). This can occur following the use of epidurals because the mothers blood pressure gets so low that blood cannot be adequately pumped into the uterus to deliver oxygen to the baby. Also, trauma to blood vessels can occur as a result of epidural anesthesia. Bleeding in the spinal column and unintentional placement of the catheter into an artery or vein occurs in 67 women out of every 1000 epidurals. The catheter actually escapes outside of where it is supposed to go 1 to 6% of the time. Hemorrhages can occur around the spinal cord and even within the skull following epidural anesthesia. These are associated with persistent backaches or headaches. Failure to treat these problems usually results in permanent paralysis. Surgery must be performed within 8 hours of the onset of paralysis or the prognosis is poor. Chronic subdural hematoma has resulted from epidural anesthesia and has even presented as post-partum psychosis!!
Infections can develop at the site of injection of the epidural. Bacterial meningitis can occur from contamination during placement of the epidural. An abscess can also form at the site where the epidural catheter is placed. Backache after an epidural is a common complication. Back pain commonly occurs after epidural anesthesia (18.9% of the time). Upper back pain can happen at some distance from the site where the epidural is injected. The back pain can last very long-term. Nineteen percent of women have long-term backache after epidural anesthesia. It probably results from a combination of its effects on the nerves and from extreme postures and stretching that occurs after the epidural during labor. Low back pain after epidural anesthesia for childbirth is also frequently mentioned by moms I know that have undergone this procedure.
Also a hidden danger of epidural anesthesia is its interaction with medications commonly used to soften the cervix and “start labor” (prostaglandins). The use of prostaglandins is common at hospitals and creates a potentially dangerous situation in which the usual medications used to treat low blood pressure during labor will no longer work.
20-30% of women experience nausea after epidural anesthesia, while 3 to 7% have vomiting during labor and afterward and lemme tell you – puking in labor is NOT COOL!
Mothers can experience excessively slow heart rates (bradycardia), heart block in which the electrical activity of the chambers of the heart become dissociated and sometimes even stoppage of the heart (cardiac arrest)!
One last thing on the epidural and I’ll stop though there is sadly much more to be said.
Local anesthetics rapidly cross the placenta…you aren’t just drugging yourself, you are drugging your baby as well. There is scientific evidence that ‘caine drugs (yes epidurals are in the same family as cocaine), the family of anesthetics used in epidurals, do, in fact, profoundly disturb instinctive newborn breastfeeding behavior. ‘Caine anesthetics, whether given as a pudendal block, epidural block, or local injection for an episiotomy, enter the mother’s circulation and cross the placenta.
Surprisingly, Docs do not discuss the relationship between the birth itself and the early days of breastfeeding. We are just beginning to understand and appreciate how a woman’s body prepares for breastfeeding during pregnancy, how what happens during labor and birth sets the stage for breastfeeding, and how the first minutes and hours after birth affect breastfeeding. The way the birth proceeds powerfully influences the first hours and days of breastfeeding.
Normal, natural birth sets the stage for problem-free breastfeeding—what nature intended—while a complicated, intervention-intensive labor and birth set the stage for problems.
In addition, the babies of medicated mothers cry substantially more, which is often attributed to frustration. They also run significantly higher temperatures, which could be due to crying and this is disadvantageous in that it means a greater expenditure of calories. Calories are VERY important to a newborn baby.
The typical “problems” that plague early breastfeeding – difficult latch, sore nipples, sleepy baby, and engorgement are rare when the mother has had a normal birth and has not been separated from her baby. Epidural = sleepy baby that is difficult, if not impossible, to nurse or even to rouse awake to nurse. Once your baby can’t nurse the whole natural process is thrown off and again is a downward spiral. Baby can’t nurse, so the breast isn’t being stimulated, so you don’t make the milk the baby needs, so the baby is supplemented with formula which means you make even less milk because again the baby isn’t feeding from you (it’s a supply and demand type thing with regards to producing milk).
Who would sign a consent if it included the above language? The degree to which the facts about the risks of inductions and epidural anesthesia are hidden from women in labor is astonishing.