Labor Inductions Lead to Earlier Births

11 06 2010

It is my personal belief that pregnant women who are less than 6 feet tall should not be allowed to carry twins. Not literally, of course, but as a 5’3” pregnant woman carrying twins, I more or less cried with relief when my OB recommended an induction at 39 weeks.

Given a recent study which associates an increased rate of induction with lower birth weight and earlier birth, I ought to have paused a bit before submitting to the induction.

In the study, researchers found a correlation between the increased rate of induced labor in the U.S. (48% between 1993 and 2003) and earlier births, as well as lower birth weight.

Circumstances which merit an induction are hotly debated, with some decrying most inductions as invasive and unnecessary while others maintain that better technologies allow for more medically appropriate interventions.

Possible reasons for an induction include:

• Fetal distress

• Uterine infection

• 10 days past estimated due date

• Maternal medical condition

The reasons for the increased rate of induction were not investigated as part of this study, but the resulting earlier births and lower birth weights are of concern because of their correlation with complications such as respiratory infections and related illnesses. And the increased usage of labor induction could be a bellwether of further complications for newborns.

Most traditional healthcare providers will recommend against inducing labor unless it’s deemed medically necessary. Despite the temptation to push labor along using various “natural” methods, the Mayo Clinic recommends instead that you:

1. Stay in touch with your healthcare provider

2. Turn on your answering machine/voicemail

3. Relax and let nature take its course.

(Rachael Brownell is the statuesque mother of three adorable munchkins, and PKIDs’ Director of Outreach.)


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