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Inducing Labor and the Risks

Inducing labor carries many possible risks. Learn what the risks are, what they may mean for you and if inducing labor is the right choice for you. Keep in mind that those of you out there that are expecting to have a vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC), inducing labor should not be an option for you at all unless continuing the pregnancy will cause you or the baby harm and even then another c-section may be the safer route. Your doctor or midwife should discuss this with you as there are already risk factors involved opting for a VBAC.

Reasons you and your provider may be needing to discuss inducing labor can be as simple as how far away you live from the hospital to more complicated situations such as your water being broken for an over extended period of time without labor starting naturally. Other reasons for inducing labor can include going 10 days beyond your due date, an infection in your uterus, low amniotic fluid levels, your placenta has begun to deteriorate, or you have a medical condition that is putting you and/or the baby at risk such as high blood pressure indicating preeclampsia.

Once you have reached your due date your doctor or midwife most likely will not jump the gun and rush you into inducing labor. Babies are normally born within 10 days before or after their expected due date. With that in mind, you’ll probably have to stick it out for another two weeks. If at that point you haven’t gone into labor naturally, you can expect to have an appointment for induction. Going beyond two weeks after your due date can pose risks since your baby is still growing. The larger your baby, the more difficult it will be for a vaginal delivery and it also increases the risks for your baby to inhale fecal waste (meconium) during birth, causing lung infection and breathing problems after birth.

Risks involved for an induced labor include premature birth if it is done too early, a low heart rate in your baby as a result of the oxytocin (medication used to jump start contractions), infection for both you and your baby, an increased risk of the umbilical cord slipping into the vagina before delivery and if compressed, can decrease the oxygen supply to the baby, possible need for emergency c-section and for those that are going VBAC, a much increased risk of uterine rupture. Uterine ruptures are rare but very a very serious complication. The uterus tears open along the scar line from your previous c-section. This is a life threatening complication that will result in immediate repeat c-section to save both you and baby.

If you do end up needing to induce labor, speak with your provider about the risks involved and how they may affect you. Ask how common they are for pregnant women fitting into your health criteria and what measures will be taken to help prevent and treat the possible complications. The more you know what to expect the better decision you’ll be able to make for you and your baby.