On-time delivery: More births being scheduled

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007
— Today's to-do list:

-- Get oil changed in the minivan.

-- Pick up gallon of milk.

-- Make doctor's appointment to give birth to baby Timmy.

Women increasingly are giving birth to their babies by elective induction, the process of starting labor before their bodies do naturally.

"Our society is concerned with controlling our schedules. No one wants to take the time to let nature take its course," said Dr. Patricia Nahn of the women's health center at Mercy West.

The Janesville area mirrors a national trend as the rate of inductions increased 10 percent from 2000 to 2006 at Mercy Hospital, said Sally Johnson, director of Mercy's birthing center.

Inductions happen for two reasons, medical or elective, and the number of parents choosing elective induction has increased over the years, local obstetricians said.

Expecting families have many reasons for choosing the date to induce labor. Some want to make sure certain family members will be there for the big moment. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also have played a big role, as expecting parents want to make sure the father isn't overseas when the baby is born.

"A lot of women want to be induced for that reason alone," Johnson said.

Some women have special days on which they want their babies to be born. Other mothers just get uncomfortable.

"People just want to get it over with," Nahn said.

That was partly the case for Julie Lebakken, who went into Mercy Hospital on Tuesday for an induction and gave birth to a healthy girl, Hannah, on Wednesday night through Caesarean section.

Her doctor told her about a month ago that she could have an induction at 38 weeks, which was welcome news for Lebakken and her husband, Randy. Lebakken suffered from hyperemesis, a severe form of morning sickness during her entire pregnancy. The sickness resulted in weight loss and weakness, so she was happy to give birth before Christmas, she said.

Scheduling Lebakken's induction also gave her peace of mind knowing she wouldn't be going into labor in an awkward setting. Hannah is the couple's fourth child, and Lebakken almost gave birth to the family's set of 5-year-old twin daughters in a car.

"I deliver very quickly," she said. "I'd rather not risk having this child at home."

Some parents just want to stay on schedule with other planned events in their life, Nahn said. But many new parents don't realize how much their schedules will change, she said.

"They're not really tuned into the fact that children don't work on your schedule," she said. "(They say), ‘But I planned on this much time being off of work, and the baby isn't here.'"

At the Dean Clinic, Dr. Blenda Yun also has seen an increase in patient requests for inductions.

"People like to have their lives a little bit more scheduled," she said.

Candidates for elective induction must be around 39 weeks along, Johnson said, and expecting mothers should talk with their obstetricians about the option to make sure the procedure is right for mother and baby.

But just because you schedule to go into the hospital at 9 a.m. Friday doesn't mean that's the day you will have your baby, especially if it's your first, Yun said.

"Sometimes it can take up to two to three days to convince your body that it wants to have this baby," she said.

Elective induction isn't always the best idea for everyone, Yun said, and doctors typically suggest women having their first baby have it naturally.

"The best way is still to have a natural labor that starts naturally and proceeds naturally," Nahn said.

Induction is more expensive because more medication is involved and the patients are in the hospital longer, she said.

"But expensive to who? If you ask the patient, (they may say), ‘It's not expensive to me, I got exactly what I wanted, when I wanted,'" Nahn said.

Being able to mentally prepare for the birth made the process less stressful, Lebakken said.

"I think I did much better as a woman dealing with labor," she said.

Her husband also was able to schedule work meetings around the plan, and Lebakken's mother knew when to arrive in town to help.

Another upside, Johnson said, is the mother being able to have her own physician deliver the baby, and the hospital has better knowledge of what staffing needs will be on a particular day.

"That, I think, to the women is one of the top priorities in their mind," she said.

Inductions can take longer than natural birth and run a higher risk of needing a Cesarean section, Nahn said. Labor can be induced in several ways—an IV solution, vaginal pellet or insert or with a special catheter, she said.

"It's more difficult for us to start labor than Mother Nature," she said. "We still don't know what exactly it is that starts labor, so we don't know how to exactly mimic it.”

Last updated: 10:49 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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