This post is modified slightly from it's original form from my old blog:
Ok, lets move on to when medical interventions are commonly offered and when they actually do become necessary.
There are several reasons commonly used to introduce interventions in labor. A few common ones for inducing labor are: baby is too big, low amniotic fluid levels, baby is past due, and the waters have broken but labor hasn't started.
The way to determine weight of a baby is by measuring the length of the femur and comparing it to full term babies birth weights. This measurement is frequently off by a pound or more. An average woman's pelvis can birth a 13 pound baby. This reason is bunk to me.
Low amniotic fluids is a scary term to throw at a mom. The way this is measured on ultrasound is by averaging several pockets of amniotic fluid around the baby. This is clearly not an exact measurement. A better gauge is monitoring the baby for a normal heart rate and activity.
A baby being past due is probably the biggest reason people induce labor. The due date is calculated at 40 weeks and generally first time moms deliver at 41 weeks and 5 days. As long as mom and baby are both healthy, there is no reason to induce just because you are nearing or past 42 weeks. Of course, the placenta does have an expiration date and can start to disintegrate around 42 weeks. If this occurs, the baby's heart rate will drop and induction will become necessary.
The bag of waters breaking before labor begins is a huge no-no at the hospital. There is an increased risk of infection and nearly all hospitals give you a 24 hour window to have the baby before they intervene. What I have learned is that if your waters break and are clean and neutral smelling (no infections or meconium), the baby's head is engaged (cord can not wash under baby's head and cut off circulation), and the vagina remains a one way street (no infectious stuff being introduced) you are fine to birth on your own time frame. The problem with hospital births is that they can't seem to keep their fingers and tools out of the vagina. They want hourly exams to check progress, thus introducing an infection risk. So, if your water breaks and the hospital staff give you an internal exam, you do indeed have a 24 hour window to have that baby before infection becomes a real concern.
I truly believe that the medical community has the best intentions in mind. I don't think they are 'out to get' anyone. However, when delivering in a hospital, the hospital follows protocol for everyone. Everyone is treated in the same manner, no matter their risk level or individual situation. I feel that hospitals treat births like a medical condition, an emergency waiting to happen.