Within Canada, the rates at which pregnant women undergo induced labour are climbing. It is estimated that approximately 20-22% of pregnant women have their labour induced.
While there is research to indicate that inducing labour may improve the outcome for mothers and babies when the baby has a very high birth weight and may prevent the very small percentage of late term stillbirths that are known to occur. However, many inductions are performed for other reasons, including non-medical reasons. Often, the mother believes that she needs to be induced for medical reasons when this is not really the case.
It is important for women to understand that there are risks involved with induction. Pitocin, which imitates Oxytocin, is the drug commonly used in hospitals to induce labour. There are several side effects that have been associated with the use of Pitocin.
Pitocin has been known to cause allergic reactions in the mother, increase postpartum hemorrhage, and cause irregular heart rates. In rare cases, it has led to seizure and death of the mother or baby. Pitocin may slow your baby’s heart rate, or result in permanent spinal cord or brain damage.
One side effect of induced labour is an increased risk of delivery by emergency cesarean section. Labour induction is thought to approximately double the risk of emergency surgical delivery. In first-time mothers, the risk of emergency cesarean becomes almost 40% if labour is induced.
Emergency cesarean section increases the risks of infection, increased bleeding and longer healing times for the mother.
Induction of labour may also lead to an increased risk of vaginal and rectal tearing during delivery. Like all drugs, each woman will react differently to the drug used to induce labour. Tearing may occur if the drug causes the delivery to progress too quickly, resulting directly in tearing, or too slowly, requiring the use of forceps or vacuum to deliver the baby.
If labour is induced before the baby reaches 39 weeks of development, the baby will be at higher risk of having breathing problems. Before 39 weeks, your baby is not at full term and there is a risk that its organs are not fully developed. Labour should not be induced before 39 weeks unless absolutely medically necessary to preserve your health or the health of your baby.
Induced labour has also been tied to an increased risk of other common birth injuries such as brachial plexus palsy, facial paralysis and cerebral palsy caused by reduced oxygen to the baby’s brain during the delivery.
If you are concerned that your induced labour may have contributed to injuries suffered by you or your baby during your delivery, contact an experienced Canadian Medical Malpractice Lawyer today. You may have a legal claim against the hospital or medical professionals who cared for you during your delivery.