How to know if Labor Induction is really necessary

In modern obstetric care, delivering the baby through artificial induction is practiced very often. While some instances of labor induction take place on the request of the parents, most such inductions are the result of various obstetric related issues that may put the life of the mother or that of the baby at risk.

However, not all mothers who are at risk of developing labor related complications will develop the same even if they undergo a normal delivery. Therefore, it is difficult to state which pregnant mother will definitely require induction of labor. However, based on research evidence, it is clear that by undertaking the same in certain situations, it is possible to reduce the risk of labor-associated complications to a significant extent.

A word of caution regarding inducing labor.

When considering the knowledge among the pregnant mothers with regard to inducing labor, it is clear that not many are aware about the instances where induction of labor would really be necessary. In some instances, parents request the same from the doctors without realizing that induction itself will carry some risk if not done at the right time. Thus, all pregnant mothers should understand that induction of labor is not something that should be done haphazardly but is something that needs to be done only when the risk of allowing natural progression of labor outweighs the risks associated with induction of labor.

Thus, what are the indications that would make doctors contemplate induction of labor?

The commonest reason would be a delay in the natural progression of labor. In general, when the due dates are passed by about two weeks, doctors get worried. As the days pass, there is a chance that the baby becomes too large to be delivered vaginally. In some instances, the baby might become stuck halfway through the birth canal. In other instances, it is possible for the baby to inhale meconium or the fecal matter present in the amniotic fluid with his or her first breath at the time of the delivery. Meconium aspiration can lead to severe respiratory distress and infections soon after birth. Thus, allowing the progression of pregnancy beyond two weeks of its due delivery date is not a good idea in most instances. Therefore, after assessing all the pros and cons, the doctors will decide on the necessity of delivering the baby through induction.

In some instances, pregnant mothers close to term may experience a ‘water leak’ or a ‘breakage of the water bag’ without any significant contractions. Absence of contractions would mean that the delivery of the baby would be delayed. However, as the baby do not have enough water within the water bag and that the water bag itself is now exposed to the outside following the rupture, it is not wise to allow such pregnancies to continue. Therefore, after carefully assessing the situation, doctors will recommend induction of labor using an appropriate method.

At times, the obstetricians will detect ‘distress’ signs emanating from the baby within the uterus. This is more likely to happen towards the end of the term. Many reasons can lead to such distress and one such instances is when there is little amniotic fluid within the ‘sac’ which can prevent the baby from making his or her movements as well as maintaining his or her bodily functions. Becoming too large to the extent that the placenta would no longer be able to handle the requirements of the baby, is another reason for distress. Amniotic fluid becoming contaminated with meconium is another reason while abnormalities with the placenta such as in the case of partial placental abruption [peeling of the placenta from the uterine wall] may also lead to fetal distress that can be detected early. At times, such abnormalities may be detected through other means such as when the obstetrician performs an ultrasound scan near term. In most such instances, there is an indication to induce labor.

Apart from these reasons, medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus and infections that might take place within the uterus may also necessitate the quick evacuation of the baby before the natural contractions take place.

In addition, there can be many other reasons for doctors to decide on inducing labor although in all such instances, the doctors will do well to evaluate the pros and cons of doing the same and chose the best mode of delivery to suit both the mother as well as the baby at that particular time.