The Downside of Inducing Labor

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What are the dangers of elective induction?

Dr. Keith Eddleman, MD
Well there are two reasons to do an induction. One is an indicated induction for some fetal and maternal reason, say the mother's blood pressure is elevated, or there's fetal growth restriction, or there's some indication to do that. The other reason to do an induction is just electively, for elective reasons, and the definition for elective induction is when there's no medical indication for one. And many women would choose, now there's a variety of different reasons, convenience, timing, just a variety of different reasons for wanting to know when to deliver. You choose the day of your induction and then that's the day that you deliver. The guidelines from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend that you not do an elective induction prior to 39 weeks unless you do an amniocentesis first to document lung maturity. The other part of elective induction is informed consent. You need to let the patient know that by choosing an elective induction, she may be increasing her risk of needing a caesarean delivery. For example, if you start the induction against a cervix that's not ready for labor yet, a cervix that's firm, closed tightly, with the baby at a very high station or position in the birth canal, then you are probably increasing your risks of ending up with a caesarean delivery. So, you need to inform the patients of these risks before she can make a decision about whether or not elective induction is right for her.