The Risk of Inducing Labor
By Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE, About.com
The induction of labor can be done for many reasons, including many valid medical reasons. However, the rise in the rate of social inductions, or elective inductions is on the rise. As the induction rate rises there are more babies and mothers placed at risk for certain complications. Here are five risks of induction that you may not know about:
1. Increased risk of abnormal fetal heart rate, shoulder dystocia and other problems with the baby in labor.
Labor induction is done by intervening in the body's natural process, typically with powerful drugs to bring on contractions or devices that are used to break the water before labor starts. Both of these types of induction can cause the baby to react in a manner that is called fetal distress as seen by fetal monitoring.
The nature of induction like contractions may also be more forceful than natural labor. This can cause your baby to assume or stay in an unfavorable position for labor making labor longer and more painful for the mother. It can also increase the need for other interventions as well.
2. Increased risk of your baby being admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Babies who are born via induction have not yet sent signals to the mother to start labor. This means that they simply aren't yet ready to be born. This risk is worth it if the baby or mother's lives are in danger, but simply to take this risk for elective reasons may not be well advised.
When a baby is in the intensive care unit there is less ability for you to be with your baby or to hold your baby. Breastfeeding usually gets off to a rocky start as well. This can usually be avoided by giving birth when your body and baby say it is time.
3. Increased risk of forceps or vacuum extraction used for birth.
When labor is induced babies tend to stay in unfavorable positions, the use of epidural anesthesia is increased and therefore the need to assist the baby's birth via the use of forceps and vacuum extraction is also increased.
4. Increased risk of cesarean section.
Sometimes labor inductions don't take, but it's too late to send you home, the baby must be born. The most common cause of this is that the bags of waters has been broken, either naturally or via an amniotomy. Since the risk of infection is greater, your baby will need to be born via c-section.
A cesarean in an induced labor is also more likely for reasons of malpresentation (posterior, etc.) as well as fetal distress.
5. Increased risks to the baby of prematurity and jaundice.
Induction can be done before your baby is ready to be born, because your due date is off or because your baby simply needed more time in the womb to grow and mature their lungs. Your baby may also be more likely to suffer from jaundice at or near birth because of the induction. This can lead to other medical treatments as well as stays in the hospital for your baby.
Being born even a week or two early can result in your baby being a near term or late preterm infant. This means that your baby is likely to have more trouble breathing, eating and maintaining temperature.