Is induction of labor necessary?

Somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of American will receive Pitocin during labor.   Many of these receive Pitocin before begins, in an effort to cause labor to start artificially.  Is this practice necessary, or even safe?  I recently stumbled across this mind-boggling story of a woman who was induced, then given a cesarean section when the induction failed…only to discover she was never pregnant at all.  Clearly, some doctors are really jumping the gun when it comes to induction.

Few women are informed of the risks of induction before they’re hooked up.  You can read the package insert for Pitocin here.  It states that due to risks to the mother and baby, Pitocin should be administered with caution.  Risks include fetal bradycardia, increased risk of neonatal jaundice, uterine hypertonicity, placental abruption, impaired blood flow, and amniotic fluid embolism, just to name a few.  Because Pitocin causes contractions that are longer and stronger than natural contractions, many women end up choosing an epidural, which slows labor and necessitates the use of even more Pitocin.  This cycle of increased pain medication and increased Pitocin often leads to fetal distress and emergency c-sections when the babies can’t cope with the lack of oxygen.

Sometimes, induction is necessary.  But with so many women being induced for such a wide variety of reasons, we know that a lot of these inductions are not necessary.  Ask a lot of questions and research your options thoroughly before agreeing to induce.  It’s a good idea to get a second opinion from a doctor or midwife in a different practice before moving forward with an induction.

Screen shot from The Business of Being Born (