Jessica Trust

A blog about maternal health

Induced Labor Increases Cesarean Rate

Expectant mothers often reach the last month of pregnancy and are very anxious to be finished with being pregnant. It is tempting to schedule a labor induction or even try natural ways to induce labor on your own to avoid the last weeks of discomfort. Yet numerous studies have shown that scheduling a labor induction increases the cesarean rate.

Induced Labor Can Increase the Mother Chance of Cesarean

New information from the Rochester School of Medicine in NY sheds some light on problems associated with labor inductions. Researchers compared groups of women who had induced labors versus those with spontaneous labors in a week-by-week study. What they discovered was that labor induction was associated with an increase risk for having a cesarean, no matter if the mother was induced at 37 weeks or even past her due date as late as 41 weeks of pregnancy. Their results showed that the increased risk was small, yet notable at one to two more cesareans for every 25 inductions.

Scheduling Inductions after Week 39 of Pregnancy Could Reduce Risk of Cesarean

One hospital in Pittsburgh found that changing the hospital guidelines regarding labor inductions was helpful to reduce the cesarean rate. Guidelines that were implemented included not allowing inductions until after mothers completed week 39 of pregnancy. If providers refused to do inductions without a medical indication prior to 40 weeks, this may be one way to reduce the risk of cesareans.

Use of Bishop’s Score Before Inducing Labor May Reduce Cesareans

The same Pittsburgh hospital revised induction guidelines to require a Bishop’s score of 8 for first-time mothers and 6 for mothers with second or later babies. The Bishop’s score is a way of measuring the mother’s readiness for labor by checking several indicators such as the texture, dilation and effacement of her cervix.

After following the revised guidelines regarding induced labors after week 39 and Bishop’s score requirements, this hospital was able to reduce its cesarean rate from 34.5% to 13.8. This was a 60% reduction in the cesarean rate in just 13 months!

Mothers Need Information About Increased Cesarean Risk Prior to Scheduling a Labor Induction

If parents are contemplating the pros and cons of having an induced labor, it is crucially important to weigh the advantages (such as end the discomforts of pregnancy and convenience) with the disadvantages (such as the increased risk of cesarean.)

If an induction of labor becomes medically necessary, parents should be encouraged to talk to the care provider about the possibility of waiting as long as possible (or until week 39 of pregnancy is completed) and factoring in the mother’s Bishop’s score to reduce the mother’s risk of cesarean.


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