Let Babies Determine Arrival Time

Induced labor without medical reason raises risk of C section and complications

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Though more women worldwide are planning inductions or cesarean sections to give birth around specific schedules, evidence reveals it's safest to wait until the baby is ready to arrive.

A recent study reveals that women whose labor is induced for any reason other than a medically necessary one are more likely to experience birth complications or to see their newborn end up in the neonatal ICU for problems.

"Wait until your baby is ready to give birth."

Rosalie Grivell, B.Sc., BMBS and an obstetrician/gynecologist from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute, led a study that looked at the data for 28,626 pregnant women and their labor conditions before giving birth.

The women either had a spontaneous onset of labor or were induced, some for specific medical reasons and some for no medically necessary reasons.

An analysis of the data revealed that inducing labor when no medically indicated reason was present resulted in a 67 percent higher likelihood that the women would give birth by cesarean section when compared to the women who entered labor naturally.

Non-medically necessary inductions were also associated with a 64 percent higher risk that the newborn would end up being cared for in the neonatal ICU and a 44 percent higher risk the infant would require NICU treatment.

The researchers calculated the safest times to give birth to avoid certain specific calculations and determined that time frame to be between 38 and 39 weeks, paired with natural onset of labor.

Women were less likely to require an epidural or similar spinal pain killer if they gave birth after 41 weeks.

Those at the lowest risk for a tear in the perineum, the skin between the birth canal and the anus, gave birth after 37 weeks. Women giving birth after 38 weeks were least likely to experience complications with labor.

"Our research relates to the optimal timing and management of labor and birth at term for women with an uncomplicated pregnancy," Grivell said.

"We hope our findings will increase awareness of potential complications related to the common use of induction of labor in situations where there is no serious maternal or fetal problem," she added.

The study appears in the February issue of the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica. Information regarding funding and potential competing interests was not available.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 9, 2012
Last Updated:
March 9, 2012