Understanding Your Choices: The Risks of Inducing Labor

Understanding Your Choices: The Risks of Inducing Labor

by / Wednesday, 10 February 2021 / Published in Birth Trauma
Pregnant woman holds stomach while standing next to a window.

As you enter your last month of pregnancy, the wait to meet your new child can feel like an eternity. But very often, babies are not delivered on the due date that had been projected early in pregnancy. While it’s extremely common for babies to be born a little bit off from their due date, there can be cause for concern when the due date is too far off the mark. Babies born prematurely can be at risk for many different types of health complications, but there can also be other risks for overdue babies.

When babies are two weeks past their due date and labor hasn’t started on its own, doctors may recommend inducing labor. In some cases, there may be other reasons to suggest inducing labor, such as low levels of amniotic fluid, placental abruption, and maternal health conditions like gestational diabetes or problems with high blood pressure. But as is the case for any other type of medical procedure, inducing labor comes with its risks for potential complications and there are times when it isn’t advisable.

The Risks of Inducing Labor

Sometimes, the medications used to induce labor can have the effect of causing contractions that are stronger and more frequent than average. The extra pressure exerted by the strong contractions can restrict oxygen and blood flowing to the baby and, since these contractions happen more frequently, there isn’t enough time for the blood and oxygen levels to return to normal between contractions and this can affect the baby’s heart rate.

Inducing labor can also come with an increased risk of umbilical cord complications. When the amniotic sac is ruptured, sometimes the umbilical cord enters the birth canal before the baby’s head. This is known as umbilical cord prolapse and when it happens, there’s a chance the umbilical cord could become compressed during delivery and interfere with the baby’s oxygen supply. Rupturing membranes to induce labor can also increase the risk of infection for both mother and child.

Since it can be so difficult to accurately determine due dates with complete accuracy, there’s a possibility that labor could end up being induced too soon. Since the bodies of premature babies have systems that aren’t fully developed yet, premature babies in general face a higher risk of experiencing birth injuries during and shortly after delivery. This is why it’s generally recommended that labor be allowed to start naturally if possible.

It’s also important to remember that inducing labor isn’t always successful. If induction fails, you may need a C-section, which involves its own set of risks and potential complications.

When is Labor Induction Not Recommended?

Generally speaking, inducing labor is not recommended if the baby is in a breech position or if the mother has previously had a C-section or other surgery on the uterus. If incisions have previously been made on the uterus, there is a higher chance that inducing labor could cause a uterine rupture.

Get Help from a Birth Trauma Lawyer

It’s very important for doctors to inform patients about any potential risks involved with a medical procedure. If you were not informed of the risks involved with labor induction and your child was injured as a result, or if labor was induced when it shouldn’t have been, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a birth trauma lawyer. Birth trauma cases can be very complex and it’s important to have someone on your side who knows how the law applies to your case. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we’ve helped many people who have been in your shoes. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

Image: iStock / damircudc