Risks of early induction or C-section

Risks of early induction or C-section

Photo by Sean McGrath from Saint John, NB, Canada (Maternity Curves) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
You’re late in your pregnancy, outgrowing your maternity clothes, you can’t sleep at night, and you’re so uncomfortable you just want baby to make an appearance already. As tempting as it may be to consider getting this birth show on the road by scheduling an induction or a cesarean birth, there are plenty of benefits to both mom and baby to wait it out until labor begins on its own.

With our healthcare system the way it is, we hear a lot about all the things that could possibly go wrong during labor. But we hear little about the risks of cesarean birth to mothers and babies. And we still hear surprisingly little about the risks of scheduled early induction.

Even at its best, cesarean birth is still major surgery and requires a substantially longer recovery period for the mother. She’s likely to spend about double the time in the hospital and will have a far more complicated and extended time healing, ranging from weeks to months. Risks of infection, blood loss, adhesions, damage to other organs, and more should weigh in the decision to schedule a cesarean birth when not truly medically necessary. And babies delivered by cesarean are 50% more likely to have lower APGAR scores and are more likely to have breathing problems than those delivered vaginally.

In terms of scheduled early induction, when not done for medical necessity, mothers should be aware that induction puts them at greater risk of longer, more difficult labor and increases the risks of both cesarean section and of their newborn needing intensive care.

In most cases, babies need all the time they can get in the womb to have the best chance at a healthy, happy birthday. Cesarean birth and induction have their places and are critical tools when medically necessary, but carry risks that should be considered when used early or for convenience.

Want more information to inform discussions with your healthcare provider? Check out this article from Consumer Reports Health, The American Academy of Family Physicians, and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists or find out more at AmericanPregnancy.org.

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