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Induction of labour might seem quite simple to hear. Just go to the hospital, get a ‘drip’ fixed, undergo induced contractions and have a baby. However, many women end up having failed inductions. Why does this happen? Let’s delve a little deeper into this issue and understand why exactly an induction fails.
What is Induction of Labour?
Induction is a process which causes labour to start artificially before it naturally begins on its own. Natural labour begins when your baby’s lungs secrete a hormone which tells your body that he is ready to enter the world. This kick-starts your cervix and causes your uterine muscles to contract, which opens the cervix. There are many methods of artificial labour or induction, but the most commonly used is artificial oxytocin hormone. Every method of induction follows the same pattern – tricking your body into believing that it is ready to give birth.
Do Inductions Work Every Time?
Many times women get induced with medications to undergo false labour but the process ends up failing, and this could end up causing foetal distress. As a result, these women have to have an emergency C-section then and there. This happens quite a number of times. Often, these women are told that their bodies simply could not take up the medication and the same thing may happen the next time.
Some are even told that it was a great thing that they were in the hospital so that their baby could be saved. We mistakenly think that labour will automatically kick in once induction starts but the answer is no. Liken the process to a flower bud whose petals are tightly furled. If you forcibly try to pry the petals apart to get to the flower bud inside, you will destroy both the flower bud and the petals surrounding it. But if the bud has opened a bit, then you might be lucky enough to encourage the petals to open. Same with induction, if both your body and the baby are not ready, your labour will be that much harder to proceed to a successful finish.
Why Do Inductions Fail?
The unborn baby in your tummy is still developing his lungs, brain and heart. Your body is wrapped tightly around him so that he goes through this development in a safe environment. During your third trimester, your body will start increasing its number of oxytocin receptors. When your baby is ready to be born, oxytocin will be released into your bloodstream and trigger these oxytocin receptors, ‘unlocking’ them. These receptors then signal your uterine muscles to start contractions and dilate the cervix. Your contractions will increase with time and become more intense as oxytocin releases in waves into your blood.
A cycle will establish itself naturally with more oxytocin being released in response to stimulation by your baby, resulting in birth. Now, when does a failed induction of labour occur? If your labour is being induced artificially, you will need a large amount of oxytocin to stimulate oxytocin receptors. If oxytocin is being flooded into your system from external sources, the oxytocin receptors in your body will get overwhelmed and fail to respond to the normal feedback your body would usually have. If your body does not respond, the oxytocin drips will be increased, and this will result in painful contractions.
Babies will face trouble due to this greater pressure and mothers might ask for an epidural to help them bear the pain. Their bodies might even stop responding to the artificial oxytocin completely, resulting in an emergency C-section.
Did Your Body Fail? – Myth Busted
If induction fails, many women end up thinking that their body didn’t respond the way it was supposed to. They will start thinking that the same thing will happen the next time and the only option for childbirth for them is a C-section. This will lead to constant worry, anxiety and insecurity in their minds. But this is a myth. The reality is that women’s bodies are biologically designed to protect their babies inside until they are born.
When the baby is ready to be born, there will be a signal that your baby is ready and your body will respond by going into labour. When an induction fails, the main reason is that your baby wasn’t ready to come out of your womb and did not send a signal your body was expecting to get. Since induction is artificial and not biological, it interferes with the normal cycle of things in your body and ends up either not responding well or refusing to comply.
The critical thing to remember if you have had a failed induction is that it is absolutely not your body’s fault. Do not blame yourself or feel guilty about a failed induction as it is not your fault. As induction is an artificial process, it is natural that it has a considerable chance of failing. Your body is not broken, and neither was your baby too big. Your body just functioned exactly as it was supposed to, to protect the baby inside. The heartwarming thing is that your baby is safe and his birth was still an amazing experience, whatever the case. So rest, heal and enjoy the journey of motherhood!