Monday, June 15, 2009
Pregnancy Experts Warn Against Inducing Labour
The call is part of a campaign to “normalize” childbirth after some studies suggest inducing labour in a first-time mother significantly increases her risk of a C-section.
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, inductions accounted for 20 per cent of all in-hospital births in Canada (excluding Quebec) in 2006-07, which is up 9% from 1980.
Several factors are driving induction rates, including the number of older first-time mothers, medical legal concerns and convenience.
Induction of labour occurs when medications such as prostaglandin and oxytocin are used when a woman is past her due date to ripen the cervix and get the uterus contracting. It can lead to longer, more painful labour and continuous electronic monitoring of the baby’s heart rate.
The number one risk of induction is that it leads to earlier decisions about a C-section, which now stands at an all-time high in Canada. Nearly 28 per cent of babies were born surgically in Canada in 2007-08, according to a national report released last week. That’s up from five per cent in 1969.
“Once you have used certain methods, such as rupturing the membrane (breaking the waters), we know that you have to have a delivery within 12 hours, otherwise it increases the risk of infection,” said Dr. Andre Lalonde, executive vice president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.
Research shows that, in healthy pregnancies, checking the baby’s heart rate after contractions by listening, or using a hand-held device, reduces the risk of interventions.
But a recently released Canadian survey of more than 6,000 women who have given birth in the last few years found most women (91 per cent) experienced electronic fetal monitoring during labour — including 63 per cent who had continuous electronic monitoring.
There is a concern that women, and their doctors, have lost confidence in the ability to give birth without technological interventions.