• Rationale and Comments

    The rate of induction in the United States (23.4% of all births) has more than doubled since 1990. The increase is not thought to be attributable to a similar rise in medical conditions in pregnancy that warrant induction of labor. Researchers have demonstrated that induction of labor for any reason increases the risk for a number of complications for women and infants. Induced labor results in more postpartum hemorrhage than spontaneous labor, which increases the risk for blood transfusion, hysterectomy, placenta implantation abnormalities in future pregnancies, a longer hospital stay, and more hospital readmissions. Induction of labor is also associated with a significantly higher risk of cesarean birth. For infants, a number of negative health effects are associated with induction, including increased fetal stress and respiratory illness. Research on the risk-to-benefit ratio of elective augmentation of labor is limited. However, many of the risks associated with elective induction may extend to augmentation. In a recent systematic review, the authors found that women with slow progress in the first stage of spontaneous labor who underwent augmentation with exogenous oxytocin, compared with women who did not receive oxytocin, had similar rates of cesarean. Such results call into question a primary rationale for labor augmentation, which is the reduction of cesarean surgery. In addition to the serious health problems associated with non–medically indicated induction of labor, hospitals, insurers, providers, and women must consider a number of financial implications associated with the practice. In the United States, the average cost of an uncomplicated cesarean birth is 68% higher than the cost of an uncomplicated vaginal birth. Further, women who deliver vaginally have shorter hospital stays, fewer hospital readmissions, faster recoveries, and fewer infections than those who have cesareans.

    Sponsoring Organizations

    • American Academy of Nursing


    • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews


    • Obstetrical


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