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What are the risks of inducing labor?

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Generally, inducing labor is safe, but there are risks:

  • Higher risk of a C-section. If induction doesn't work, your doctor might decide to switch to a C-section instead.
  • Longer hospital stay. If you're induced, you may be in the hospital longer during labor and delivery. If you wind up needing a C-section after induction, your time in the hospital will be even longer.
  • Increased need for pain medicine. Inducing labor might cause contractions to come on stronger and more often than they would naturally. You're more likely to need an epidural or another medicine to manage the pain.
  • Increased risk of infection. Breaking the amniotic sac can lead to infection if you don't deliver within a day or two after induction.
  • Health problems for your baby. Women who are induced often have babies born a little early -- between the 37th and 39th weeks. Early babies can have problems with breathing and other things. They might have a higher risk of long-term developmental problems.
  • Complications during delivery. Induction, especially with medications, might not be safe for women who’ve had a previous C-section or other surgery to the uterus. They have a higher risk of uterine rupture. Intense contractions also cause the placenta to detach from the wall of the uterus, called placental abruption. Both of these conditions are serious but rare, even with induction.

From: Inducing Labor WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: “Thinking About Inducing Your Labor: A Guide for Pregnant Women" and “Elective Induction of Labor: Safety and Harms."

American Academy of Family Physicians: "Methods for Cervical Ripening and Induction of Labor."

American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists: "Labor Induction;" "FAQ Labor Induction;" and "ACOG Practice Bulletin Clinical Management Guidelines for OB-GYN."

Giving Birth with Confidence: "Considering Induction? Learn Your Bishop's Score."

Kavanagh, J. April 23, 2001. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews,

Kelly, A. 2001. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews,

Kids Health: "Inducing Labor."

March of Dimes: "Elimination of Non-Medically Indicated (Elective) Deliveries Before 39 Weeks Gestational Age."

National Center for Health Statistics: "New Birth Report Shows More Moms Get Prenatal Care."

National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health: "Monitoring and pain relief for induction of labour."

Office on Women’s Health: “Pregnancy Complications," “Labor and Birth.”

Schaffir, J. , June 2006. Obstetrics & Gynecology

Reviewed by Nivin Todd on July 16, 2017

SOURCES:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: “Thinking About Inducing Your Labor: A Guide for Pregnant Women" and “Elective Induction of Labor: Safety and Harms."

American Academy of Family Physicians: "Methods for Cervical Ripening and Induction of Labor."

American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists: "Labor Induction;" "FAQ Labor Induction;" and "ACOG Practice Bulletin Clinical Management Guidelines for OB-GYN."

Giving Birth with Confidence: "Considering Induction? Learn Your Bishop's Score."

Kavanagh, J. April 23, 2001. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews,

Kelly, A. 2001. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews,

Kids Health: "Inducing Labor."

March of Dimes: "Elimination of Non-Medically Indicated (Elective) Deliveries Before 39 Weeks Gestational Age."

National Center for Health Statistics: "New Birth Report Shows More Moms Get Prenatal Care."

National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health: "Monitoring and pain relief for induction of labour."

Office on Women’s Health: “Pregnancy Complications," “Labor and Birth.”

Schaffir, J. , June 2006. Obstetrics & Gynecology

Reviewed by Nivin Todd on July 16, 2017

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What should you do if inducing labor is recommended?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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