Elective Induction Poses Risks

Creative Commons License photo credit: DioBurto

Roughly 10% of deliveries in the United States are induced without a specific medical reason. There are a number of nonmedical reasons why doctors and moms choose to induce labor. Often, the reason is simply convenience.

While the practice of elective induction is becoming more common, recent studies show that there are significant risks involved with the practice. If you are considering having your delivery induced (barring medical reasons for doing so), consider the following results of a recent Australian study conducted by the University of Adelaide:

  • The likelihood of delivering via C-section increases by 67% for elective induction deliveries.
  • The likelihood that baby will need special care increases by 64% for elective induction deliveries.
  • The likelihood that babies will require treatment increases by 44% for elective induction deliveries.

There are instances, of course, when inducing labor is medically necessary. This can happen before the full 39 week term. No one is suggesting that mothers should forego having labor induced if a doctor or nurse midwife suggests it for medical reasons.

In cases where there is no underlying medical reason to induce labor, however, studies show that waiting for the natural onset of labor is safer to both mother and baby. It’s important to consider the potential risks of having labor induced, especially before you have reached full term, before scheduling an elective induction.

In the US, the most common reasons given for elective induction include:

  • Choosing the date for compatibility with work or school schedules
  • Choosing the date to avoid a holiday (or to cause the birth to fall on a holiday)
  • Convenience and safety due to the mother living far from medical facilities
  • Concern about the size of the baby (usually concern that the baby is too large)

The US Department of Health and Human Services and the March of Dimes have both started initiatives designed to spread the word about the potential risks of elective induction. The hope is that the number of elective inductions will be decreased as women become more aware of the risks associated with elective induction.

Were you considering an elective induction? How do the potential risks weigh in on your decision to have labor induced?


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