Labor Induction and What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know

Despite the fact that the convenience of planning the day of birth has serious downsides, as many as 40% or more of mothers today choose to have their labors induced. What do expectant mothers need to know about labor induction before they choose one?

Labor Inductions Double the Chance of Cesarean

While inducing labor is a popular choice to get labor started, the reality is that labor inductions are much more likely to increase the chance of a cesarean rather than a vaginal birth. Numerous studies have shown that whether it is a first or subsequent birth, women are more likely to have a cesarean birth if they choose to have their labors induced.

One recent study showed that 44% of the women participating chose to have an induction. In this group, 40% of the inductions were considered to be elective or performed without a specific medical reason. Even though the women participating were all considered to be “low risk,” those whose labors were induced had a 25% chance of cesarean, versus a 14% cesarean rate among women who had spontaneous labor.

Being Induced Increases the Risk of Preterm Birth

Experts have noticed that the risk of preterm birth has increased by 30% in the last 25 years. Some have speculated that one reason for more preterm babies today is due to the increase in labor inductions.

A baby born at 37-38 weeks is known as a “late preterm” baby. Even though these babies are in the last month of pregnancy, one of the last developmental milestones is lung maturity. A baby born before 38 weeks can have more difficulty breathing and as result, may need to remain in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) until he or she can breathe without help.

While there is growing concern about the number of labor inductions that occur one to two weeks prior to the mother’s due date, they still happen, especially in cases when the mother’s due date may be inaccurate. When it comes to the baby’s health, these early inductions clearly do more harm than good.

Labor Inductions Increase the Mother’s Risk of Cervical Tearing

One little known fact about labor inductions is that they actually increase the mother’s chance of cervical tearing. In some reported cases, being induced increases the mother’s chance of cervical tearing by three fold.

While it may not be clear exactly why inducing labor could affect the mother’s cervix, it is known that the hormone pitocin used for inductions causes very powerful contractions that occur close together. It is possible that these more intense, painful contractions make it harder for the mother’s cervix to dilate more gradually.

The Facts on Labor Induction – Are the Benefits Worth the Risk?

Mothers planning their births today have much to consider. Labor inductions may appear to be an attractive solution to the lack of sleep and pregnancy discomforts that go along with late pregnancy. However, the more scientists learns about inducing labor, the more they discover that the downsides to labor inductions may outweigh the benefits.