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Inducing Labor May Increase Risk Of Complications

pregnant woman stomach

All any expecting parent wants is for delivery to proceed as safely as possible for both mother and baby. While most deliveries go smoothly, complications and birth injuries arise. Doctors may order labor to be induced with medication in some circumstances.

Doctors may order labor to be induced for a variety of reasons. It may be induced if you have a medical condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes that puts you or your baby at risk. In some cases, mothers have infections in their uterus that require labor to start early. In other situations, labor may not have begun on its own for two weeks beyond a mother’s due date. Labor may also be induced before term when babies are large, as studies show that delivering large babies may be more likely to have complications.

Inducing labor, however, is not a decision mothers should take lightly. Induced labor comes with an increased risk of complications. According to the Mayo Clinic, labor induction may result in:

  • Problems from medications: Labor is often induced with medications such as oxytocin or prostaglandin. The medication may cause too many contractions, which can reduce your baby’s oxygen supply and lower your baby’s heart rate.
  • Infection: You and your baby may have a greater risk of infection.
  • Compressed umbilical cord: There is an increased risk of an umbilical cord becoming compressed during induced labor. Compressed umbilical cords can decrease the baby’s critical oxygen supply.
  • Uterine rupture: In rare cases, the uterus can tear open along a scar line from a previous uterine surgery or C-section. An emergency C-section may be necessary to prevent uterine rupture complications.
  • C-section: C-sections are more likely in general in labors that have been induced. This is especially true for first-time mothers.

Complications during birth create an increased risk of birth injuries for babies. Oxygen deprivation, for example, can cause severe and permanent injuries, including cerebral palsy and other conditions resulting from brain damage. Uterine ruptures can cause severe brain damage or death to unborn babies. Given these risks, your doctor should discuss with you whether inducing labor is appropriate in your case.

When complications arise during birth, including births after induced labor, it can be nearly impossible for parents to know whether the harm the child and mother have suffered were unavoidable or whether a doctor or other medical provider’s negligence created serious and permanent injuries. An experienced birth injury attorney will best be able to evaluate these cases for potential liability.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, “Labor Induction; Baby Center, “Inducing Labor,” June 2012

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