Labor Induction Risks

The question of labor induction is really about weighing the benefits against the possible risks. If you’re having medical problems or your baby’s health is in danger, induction can begin labor at a crucial time. When the benefit is convenience, most doctors and midwives would advise against it. If done properly, and by a doctor or midwife who has carefully considered your situation, it can lead to the safe delivery of a healthy baby or allow timely treatment of a baby who needs medical assistance. Your doctor or midwife will recommend inducing your labor only when he or she believes that the risks to you and your baby of continuing the pregnancy are higher than the risks of waiting for labor to begin on its own. It’s important to clearly discuss these issues with your doctor or midwife. If the induction is being done for non-medical purposes then the benefits of induction may not outweigh the risks.

The most common risk you face if you’re induced is that the induction won’t work (after about 24 to 48 hours ) and you’ll need a cesarean. There is an increased risk of cesareans associated with labor inductions, particularly with first-time moms, whose risks increase by two to three times. Pitocin (synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin) use substantially heightens this risk of needing a c-section during labor. Due to the fact that Pitocin may make your contractions too strong, which can put stress on your uterus and on your baby, at which point your doctor or midwife may decide that a cesarean is necessary. There’s no sure way to know whether you’ll need to have a cesarean in the event that you’re induced. Discuss your concerns with your doctor or midwife, to identify any risk factors that could make a cesarean delivery more likely for you.

Such techniques as Pitocin and prostaglandin gel can occasionally hyper-stimulate your uterus (because of the stronger, more powerful contractions they tend to bring on), which can lead to possible uterine rupture and placental abruption, particularly if you’ve had a previous cesarean or uterine surgery. A recent study found that between 15 – 25% of women who received Pitocin, experienced uterine hyper-stimulation, the rates depending on the dosage amount given. In addition, the stronger, more painful contractions (which are also typically longer in duration) that these forms of induction may cause often leads to pain medication use that may not otherwise be needed. Epidural rates are much higher for women who’s labors were induced.

The more powerful contractions brought on by certain methods of induction can limit blood flow and oxygen supply to the baby, leading to drops in the baby’s heart rate. You’ll need to have continuous electronic monitoring during an induced labor to assess both the frequency and length of your contractions as well as your baby’s heart rate, because of these risks, which may restrict mobility. Also, induced labors are often longer (as well as require longer hospital stays typically), require stricter bed rest and may require an internal monitor, which further restricts mobility. Labor inductions many times also mean administration of IV fluids.

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