Induction of labour is something which many of us are confronted with as we approach our due date. The recommendation
often is broached with an airy “we’ll just book you in for an induction just in case”. All too often, the benefits of induction to reduce the length of a pregnancy is discussed, but not the risks. And although induction does have a time and a place in certain circumstances, often it is suggested and accepted as “routine” without much thought of the potential short and long term impact on both mother and baby. So what ARE the risks?
Hannah Dahlen et al conducted a research study of over 47,000 births and followed the babies over 16 years to see the effects of induction of labour over the short and long term. The findings are EYE OPENING, especially in light of the fact that NICE guidelines are proposing bringing forward the recommended point of induction to 41 weeks, regardless of any other (or lack of) indications of need to cut short a pregnancy.
The sad fact is, a LOT of pregnant people will have induction recommended, and most will go ahead without understanding the potential short and long term implications to them and their babies.
So what did this study find?
higher rates of instrumental births, c-section, episiotomies, tears and postpartum haemorrhage amongst those who were induced vs those who went in to spontaneous labour
short term, they found higher rates of admission to NICU, asphyxia, birth trauma, resuscitation, and respiratory disorders in babies who were induced
long term, the higher rates of hospital admission for ear, nose and throat infections in those babies who were induced
the study did not find any benefits of IOL for neonates, at any term gestation of labour onset, when induced for non-medical reasons
Whilst induction of labour may be advised for certain medical reasons, it’s vital that parents fully understand BOTH the risks and benefits, in order to make an informed decision. Induction of labour for non-medical reasons needs to be re-evaluated (and yes inductions do happen for non-medical reasons. My own was for no other reason than it was a quiet period and they knew they’d have beds available). Inductions are not risk free, and the risks may outweigh the potential benefits.
You can read the full study here: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/11/6/e047040