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Exceeding your due date is very common. It is estimated that seven out of ten babies are born after the expected date, which is estimated around the 40th week of pregnancy.
Most women go into labor between week 37 and week 42 of their pregnancy, which is why most health professionals prefer to wait until week 42 of pregnancy, before beginning to consider that the pregnancy is out of date. At that time, labor can be triggered. We explain how labor can be induced and why.
Always there must be a health reason that justifies induction of labor. This decision never depends on the pregnant woman, but on the medical team that attends her, since it must be based on an accurate diagnosis, which justifies that it is necessary to end the pregnancy and induce labor, because its continuation can be dangerous to the health of mom or baby.
The most common risk factors for inducing labor are the presence of pre-eclampsia, premature rupture of the amniotic sac, delayed fetal growth, certain serious maternal diseases (such as hypertension, diabetes and nephropathy, among others), fetal death, chronologically prolonged pregnancy and, in some cases, certain psychosocial factors.
When induction of labor is carried out prematurely, the most frequent risk is preterm delivery, which occurs when induction is carried out without a correct evaluation of the weeks of pregnancy, due to an error in the calculation of the estimated due date.
Other risks include cesarean section when induction methods fail and dilation does not occur; puerperal endometritis, a uterine infection from maneuvers performed during induction; abnormal contractions and acute fetal distress produced by a lack or decrease in oxygenation of the baby, tears in the uterus and bleeding.
At present, it is preferred that nature take its normal course and intervene as little as possible. However, when termination of pregnancy is necessary for health reasons, there are several methods of induction of labor, which are carried out in a hospital setting. Its purpose is to initiate the contractions that will cause labor.
- Membrane separation
It consists of detaching the membranes during a vaginal examination. The gynecologist inserts a finger into the cervical os and by means of a circular motion of the examining finger, the lower pole is detached from the membranes of the lower uterine segment. This intervention has the ability to initiate labor by increasing the local production of prostaglandins and thereby reducing the formal duration of labor. In all cases, it does not evolve successfully.
- Artificial rupture of the amniotic sac
Amniotomy or deliberate rupture of the membranes can be used as the only method for induction of labor and is performed through an incision in the amniotic sac.
- Administration of prostaglandins
Prostaglandin is a hormone that is generally administered in the form of ovules or vaginal gels whose function is to prepare the cervix for the onset of labor.
- Administration of oxytocin
This synthetic hormone is given through a continuous intravenous drip. The dose of the drip will be increased slowly until the labor progresses without complications. Because it can cause very strong uterine contractions, its use is combined with epidural anesthesia for better pain tolerance. Oxytocin is the most widely used inducing agent in the world.
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