Are There Risk Factors with Induced Birth?

In 2003, a New York Times report suggested that one in five babies are born via medically induced birth, with half of those inductions being elective.  There are many reasons why delivery may be induced, and the question must be asked, “are there risk factors with induced birth”? Like most medical procedures, there is no clear “yes” or “no” answer to this question.  Instead, let’s explore some of the possible causes, risk factors, and outcomes of induced birth.

Causes of Induced Birth

Induced births happen for reasons either medically necessary or elective.  Medically necessary inductions are those ordered by doctors when it is in the best interests of the mother or baby to delivery sooner than later.  In these cases, the doctor will evaluate the situation and determine if the benefits outweigh the risks.  Some examples of medical situations that often result in induced birth include:

  • Placental Abruption
  • Preeclampsia, Eclampsia, or HELLP Syndrome
  • Maternal or Fetal Infections
  • Low Amniotic Fluid (oligohydramnios)
  • Extended gestation two weeks or more past the due date
  • Water breaks but no contractions initiated naturally
  • The baby has stopped growing in the womb

In terms of elective induction, there are many opinions about when it is a viable choice for expectant mothers.  A number of factors must be considered by doctors before a scheduled induction.  Some of the most common reasons elective inductions are scheduled include:

  • Women who live a long way away from a hospital
  • Women with a history of rapid or complicated births

Pregnancy, labor, and delivery are processes that change and evolve rapidly, and elective inductions are not appropriate for all families.  Researchers and medical experts advise that induced birth should not be elective based on lifestyle.

Anytime a doctor schedules, orders, or facilitates an induced birth based on factors outside the medically accepted standards of care, he or she may also be violating your legal rights.  Medical malpractice and negligence can have a detrimental effect on your family.  Learn more about your legal rights as a patient by contacting Birth Injury Guide today.

Risk Factors of Induced Birth         

Inducing labor if it is not medically necessary, is done at the wrong time, or is not appropriate for the health of the mother and/or child can pose serious risks.  Some of the most common risks include:

  • Umbilical cord problems
  • Uterine rupture
  • Too many contractions causing changes in fetal oxygen or heart rate
  • Complications related to pre-existing medical conditions
  • Increased risk of infection when balloon catheter, rods, or cervical sweeping are used
  • Premature birth
  • Severe bleeding after delivery
  • Increased risk of emergent Cesarean (c-section)

There are also some risks specific to the medications that may be used for induced birth, such as Pitocin and Cervidil.  These medications are synthetic versions of the naturally occurring hormone Oxytocin, which your body naturally produces during labor.  This increases the frequency of contractions to speed up the labor and delivery process.  Some of the risks associated with these medications include:

  • Too many contractions, or having frequent contractions for too long can put the baby at risk for reduced oxygen and blood supply, which can lead to brain damage and other serious birth injuries.
  • When induction is ordered without proper ‘ripeness’ of the cervix (meaning the cervix is not prepared for delivery), the induction may be classified as a “failed induction”, which puts the mother and child at a greater risk for infection, birth injuries, and emergent c-section.

If Pitocin or Cervidil are administered before the cervix is ready, the contractions you feel will essentially be pointless because your body is not physically ready to delivery your baby.  When this happens, you and your child are put at risk for the complications described above, and possibly others depending on your health.

Outcomes of Induced Birth

The outcome of an induced birth will strongly depend on the individual facts of your situation, such as:

  • Your overall health and medical history
  • The overall health of your baby
  • Your labor and delivery process
  • Any complications you may have experienced

In many cases, an induced birth results in a healthy, happy family with no side effects.  There are, unfortunately, many other cases that result in birth injuries that can be a challenge for you and your child to overcome or manage.

Many parents who experience birth injuries during labor or delivery find that they must make modifications and accommodations for their child and family.  Depending on the nature and severity of the birth injury, you may need to consider options, such as:

  • Ongoing medical, therapy, or surgical care.
  • Home modifications to make day-to-day life easier for your child and family.
  • Care accessories, such as a wheelchair, braces, orthotics, or therapy aids.
  • Special education, or in some cases, specialized schools, home-schooling, or tutoring to meet educational needs for children who cannot physically attend a traditional classroom setting.
  • Involvement with organizations and community activities that will support and encourage your child and family to be engaged, social, and active.

Finding Help after a Birth Injury

If you have experienced an induced birth and you believe that your doctor was negligent in ordering or facilitating induction causing a birth injury, it is important that you contact a medical malpractice and birth injury attorney to explore your legal rights.  Contact Birth Injury Guide today to discuss your situation with one of our skilled birth injury attorneys.  Fill out the form on your screen to schedule a free case review.

Meagan Cline

Written By Meagan Cline

Meagan Cline is a professional legal researcher and writer. She lends her expertise to the team at Birth Injury Guide to provide up-to-date and relevant content that clients can count on.