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Why Are People Still Judging Moms Who Have to Be Induced?

Photograph by Twenty20

Dear Mom-Shamers,

What's up with the induction stigma? Seriously. I see you people. I see you in the supermarket asking a stranger when her baby is due, hearing the definite answer, and responding, “Oh, you’re inducing? You don’t want to do that.”

I see you at the playground telling a mom that she didn’t have a “natural” birth while her healthy son is climbing on the jungle gym.

I see you on Facebook when a woman posts about her upcoming induction, and you comment, “I believe babies will come when they’re ready,” or the slightly more subtle “Why are you being induced?”

Can we talk about that question? What exactly is its purpose? Are you genuinely interested? Are you trying to validate this woman’s reason for an induction and make sure it’s good enough? Are you questioning her ability to make informed decisions about her health and the health of her child with a medical professional of her choice? Are you an expert? I’m just wondering.

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If you’re interested, here is a list of medical reasons why labor should be induced: Hypertension, preeclampsia, heart disease, gestational diabetes, bleeding, infection, water breaking, or pregnancy that is post-term. Some of these can be life-threatening for both mother and baby.

There are also non-medical situations where induction is considered prudent, such as a mom who lives hours away from a hospital, or has a history of extremely fast labor, or only feels safe delivering with a certain provider, or you know, because she wants to.

But sometimes our bodies don’t know what they’re doing. That’s a fact.

“But what about the risks?” you say. “What about the increased risk of C-section and prematurity and low heart rate and umbilical cord problems and bleeding after delivery?”

News flash: All deliveries have risks.

If you’re into medical data, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology released a study on induced labor last year. It found no evidence that full-term induction is harmful, and in fact, suggested that it may have benefits. The data showed no increase in C-sections, low Apgar scores, or admission to the NICU. Induction was actually associated with less blood loss for mothers and far lower rates of meconium staining.

So, we have science. And then we have belief. And if we’re all being honest, belief is what rules most of our attitudes about pregnancy and birth. Some of us choose to believe in natural processes. We believe that our bodies know what they’re doing. Often, this is very beneficial, allowing us to feel safe and to trust. Because in that delivery room, safety and trust are the only things that matter.

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But sometimes our bodies don’t know what they’re doing. That’s a fact. And whether a laboring woman trusts her body, the wisdom of Mother Nature, or an OB who did 12 years of medical school and residency, does it matter? It’s her body. It’s her child. It’s her choice.

Mia Martino Howe, a mom of two, has dealt with judgmental questions about both of her inductions and explains what may be going through the heads of other moms-to-be who also have to make the difficult decision to be induced:

"The induction is scheduled. That's happening. And maybe I still don’t feel great about it, but I know it’s what we need to do for him. So, in my first act of maternal sacrifice, I’m going to put aside what I want for my birth and get him here safely. What I don’t need on top of it is your judgment... that now I’m starting off my motherhood doing a disservice to my child by not letting him come when he’s ready. When in actuality, I’m saving his life by bringing him into this world a week early.”

So Mom-Shamers, here’s the bottom line. No woman deserves to be shamed for making informed choices about her body and her family. So, stop commenting and start listening.

Sincerely,

A Mom Who's Sick of All the Judgement

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