When does a Doctor Decide to Induce Labor

Inducing labor is a procedure where a doctor gets labor started using one or more methods. Often it is done with chemicals. While one in five babies will be born this way, it does carry some risk and often only done when it is best for mother and or child. The decision of when a doctor decided to induce is often up to the doctor and can differ from one to another. However, the main reasons for inducing labor are the same across the board.

Post-term pregnancy:

A post term pregnancy is one that lasts longer then 14 days over the due date. While it is possible that the due date was wrong, that everything is fine, and that the baby is healthy and happy doctors choose to induce labor at this point for several reasons. First of all, there is a larger chance of the placenta abrupting (becoming separated from the uterine wall), becoming damaged, or ceasing to function. This can be very dangerous for the baby. Additionally allowing the pregnancy to continue post term can cause the baby to grow too large for safe vaginal delivery and can cause a lot of stress on the parents.

Problems with the pregnancy:

There are several problems that can creep up causing there to be a need for induced labor. They can include placental abruption where the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus. This causes it to be less effective and can cause damage to the baby. There are also problems such as infection of the membranes (the sac that holds the amniotic fluid), premature rupture of the membranes (your water breaks without labor following), the placenta is no longer effective in taking care of the baby, there is too little amniotic fluid, or the baby is getting too big. Each of these situations can lead to a doctor deciding to induce labor.

Problems with the mother:

There are several reasons that inducing labor would be for the benefit of the mother. The biggest one is preeclampsia or eclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition also known as toxicity of pregnancy. It includes high blood pressure and often effects many of the organs, sometimes dangerously so. Eclampsia is when preeclampsia starts effecting the brain causing seizures. Both can be very dangerous for mom and baby. The condition can cause there to be a need for inducing labor. In addition to preeclampsia and eclampsia other conditions such as diabetes, chronic illnesses, and infection can be reasons for a doctor deciding to induce.

Elective or Semi-elective inductions:

More and more doctors are offering elective or semi-elective inductions. Often these have to do with a variety or reasons. Some may elect to have labor induced because they live far from the hospital and don’t feel comfortable with driving the distance and possibly not making it. Others can choose to induce because they have a history of very fast deliveries. Still others are allowed to choose to induce labor if they meet their due date without labor. These vary greatly from doctor to doctor.

With a variety of reasons for inducing and an increase in elective inductions it isn’t surprising that one in five babies is born through the process. There is some debate about whether or not it is a good thing and whether or not inducing labor for minor issues or after reaching the due date is a good idea. None the less, doctors everywhere will still use this method to save lives and even to increase the comfort of the parents.