Trends and Issues in Labor Induction in the United States: Implications for Clinical Practice

Authors


Address for correspondence: Kathleen Rice Simpson, PhD, RNC, FAAN, 7140 Pershing Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63130. E-mail: E-mail: krsimpson@prodigy.net.

Abstract

The labor induction rate is at an all-time high in the United States. Although induction of labor is recommended as a therapeutic option only when the benefits of expeditious birth outweigh the risks of continuing the pregnancy, a “psychosocial indication” has become a common rationale for elective induction in the United States. It is unlikely that all women are provided with a complete discussion of the cascade of interventions that frequently accompany labor induction and the risks of cesarean birth. Although at first glance elective labor induction may seem more convenient, an appreciation of the inconvenience of the greater rates of interventions, the longer labor and overall hospital stay, the higher costs, the additional attention required by the primary health care provider when complications occur, and the risk of an adverse outcome for a mother or baby after an elective procedure with subsequent litigation should cause everyone to exercise caution and reevaluate current practice. Professional organizations should take proactive steps to advocate for pregnant women so they are fully aware of the risks and benefits. A public campaign to discourage elective labor induction for nulliparous women is worth serious consideration.

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