There has been an ongoing debate over whether inducing labor really increases or decreases your chance of having a C-section. According to a new study conducted at Queen Mary University in London, forget everything you've read about inducing labor (which is when a doctor gives you medicine like pitocin, or other drugs, to artificially start or speed up your contractions) boosting your chances of needing a C-section.
In fact, according to their analysis of 157 studies involving 31,000 births, pregnant women whose labor is induced are 12 percent less likely to need a cesarean delivery than those whose doctors take a "wait-and-see" approach.
According to Health Day, "the 12 percent lower risk of cesarean delivery was seen in term or post-term pregnancies that were induced, but not in preterm births, the authors noted.
Inducing labor lowered the chance of cesarean delivery in both high- and low-risk pregnancies, and it also reduced the risk of fetal death and complications in mothers, the findings showed.
The researchers also found that the widely-used drug prostaglandin E2 was linked to a reduced risk of cesarean delivery. However, use of the hormone oxytocin, and amniotomy (the deliberate rupture of the amniotic sac) did not lower the chance of C-section.
Labor is induced in about 20 percent of deliveries, for myriad reasons—including (but not limited to) being one to two weeks past your due date; having gestational diabetes (and your doctor fears your baby may be getting too big); having too little amniotic fluid, or your baby isn't growing as it should; if your water breaks but your labor doesn't start on its own; or if you develop preeclampsia.
In other great induction news, last week the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists debunked a recent study by Duke University's Medical Center that stated that women who had induced labors were more likely to have newborns on the autism spectrum. ACOG claims there is insufficient evidence to support this theory, and therefor doctors should not change their practice of using inductions when needed. As with all things, speak to your doctor if you're concerned about your chances of being induced so you have all of the facts about the risks and benefits.
On a personal note, being induced isn't as scary as it sounds—though I understand being freaked out about it. My ob-gyn induced me at 39 weeks—my water had broken at 4:00 am, and by 8:00 am I was still just dilated one measly centimeter. I also had gestational diabetes, so she worried that I could end up having to have a C-section if all did not go well. Luckily, all did go well. In fact, after getting the pitocin at around 9:00 am, I went to sleep and when I woke up at noon, I was fully dilated. I couldn't believe I had slept through most of my major contractions! If you have to be induced, I hope things go equally well for you!
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Labor & Delivery: Inducing Labor
Image of woman in labor courtesy of Shutterstock.