Debunking the misconception of inducing labor and cesarean birth

CHICAGO -- With a bit of labor, a local physician helped debunk a commonly held belief. It’s a pleasant surprise for expectant mothers and their doctors.
Northwestern Medicine OBGYN Dr William Grobman said the long-held belief that inducing labor often leads to a cesarean birth has been a topic among parents and medical specialist for a long tie.

“We’ve really thought and wondered about it for a super long time. Not just years but decades,” he said.

Doctors may recommend an induction because of a medical condition or complication that comes up during pregnancy. But for low-risk, first-time moms, the consequences were unknown.

“It kind of got embedded in our consciousness that induction was associated with an increased risk of cesarean delivery,” said Dr Grobman.

Turns out it’s a misconception born from the misinterpretation of older science. Now, what new science shows is as soothing as a lullaby.

“Moms who were induced had a lower chance of cesarean, they had a lower chance of some other complications, like high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia,” Dr Grobman said. “They had shorter stays in the hospital after delivery, the babies had shorter stays in the hospital after delivery and the babies also required less interventions for respiratory problems.”

The finding comes from the largest study of its kind. Dr Grobman looked at the outcomes of more than 6,000 patients at dozens of sites around the country. Of the women in the study who opted for elective induction at 39 weeks, when a baby is considered full term,19 percent went on to have a cesarean birth. That’s compared to 22 percent of women who were not induced yet ultimately had a c-section.

“It’s not promoting induction. It was a study that was done to try to understand what the consequences of induction are so we can provide women with good information,” Dr Grobman said. “So they can make choices most aligned with what they want.”

A smaller but similar study in Britain recently yielded the same results. Dr Grobman says it’s now up to the OBGYN community to confidently spread the word – something they haven’t been able to do in years.