Inducing labour might sound like a tricky business if you don’t know anything about that aspect of giving birth. You might think that labour either happens quite naturally, or you have to opt for a C-section. But in certain cases you might have to be induced, or you might choose to be induced, depending on the situation.
You might be induced or choose to be induced for several reasons. If your doctor recommends inducing labour, it might be because you’re past your due date, or you have some uterus infection, there are issues with the baby or you have some medical condition, etc. On the other hand, you might choose to be induced if you live far away from the hospital and you want to give birth in a controlled environment.
However, there are risks to being induced which you might want to consider.
Your labour might be longer
If you induce labour, there’s a chance the process might be longer and more painful. The drugs that are given to induce might also lead to stronger contractions. You might then need an epidural to numb the pain.
More interventions during the process
If labour is induced, your baby is more likely to stay in the position in which it was rather than moving down. There might be a further requirement of pain management, of the doctor using forceps or using vacuum extraction to try to assist the process. So inducement in that sense makes labour a process where there is a lot of interference, which might not have happened with a natural birth.
Higher risk of a C-section
If the doctor breaks your water rather than it happening naturally, you will then have to give birth as soon as possible, otherwise, there’s a high probability of infection. If the process of labour does not start after your waters have broken, you will need to have a C-section in order to deliver the baby. However, some research shows that inducing labour at around the 39-week mark doesn’t necessarily cause C-sections.
The drugs can affect your baby
Oxytocin or prostaglandin can be given to induce labour. However, the excessive contractions that are caused by these (aside from causing your more pain) might be harmful to the baby, in terms of its heart rate and oxygen supply. It can make it harder for the baby to breathe and lower its heart rate. This might result in serious defects or health problems for the baby.
Risk of uterine rupture
This doesn’t happen often but can be serious. If you’ve had a previous C-section or some kind of uterine surgery, the scar can rip open, and then you will have to have an emergency C-section. More drastic measures might be required, such as removing the uterus entirely. However, this is a rather rare side-effect of inducing.
Labour and postpartum bleeding
Of course, bleeding is common after you’ve given birth, and it’s to be expected during labour. But if you’ve been induced there’s a chance that you might bleed heavily through and after your labour due to the drugs. Especially after you’ve given birth, it might be that your uterine muscles won’t contract as they should, leading to excess bleeding.
Risk of jaundice
If the liver isn’t mature enough to deal with breaking down red blood cells, that can cause jaundice. If the baby is underdeveloped when you’re induced and this happens, your baby might end up with a case of jaundice. Although it’s treatable it will cause a lot of extra fuss for you when your newborn has jaundice, and you will definitely have to stay longer in the hospital to make sure they get better.
It might fail
Inducement not working means a C-section or a lot of interference, but in that case you’ve just gone through the process of inducement for nothing. Labour is already a high-stress time, and a failed induction can add to that stress.
In many cases, however, inducing is medically necessary, which is why many doctors do it. If you make sure you’ve got a good doctor, you’ll probably be totally fine. Especially if you’re induced in controlled circumstances, in a hospital, at the right time. So don’t worry unnecessarily if your doctor has recommended it, but think deeply before you opt for an elective inducement.