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Inducing labor early discouraged by hospitals

February 9, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The last two weeks of pregnancy can be agonizing for moms-to-be, and not knowing when labor will arrive can make it hard to plan. Some mothers choose to have early inductions to help them prepare for their little one's arrival. But now some hospitals are cracking down by banning early, induced arrivals.

The last two weeks of pregnancy can be agonizing for moms-to-be, and not knowing when labor will arrive can make it hard to plan. Some mothers choose to have early inductions to help them prepare for their little one's arrival. But now some hospitals are cracking down by banning early, induced arrivals.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that in the last two decades the rate of induction has more than doubled, and early induction for non-medical reasons is common practice.

"Moms wanted to have the convenience of having the babies born at a time that was good for them. And physicians perceived that the risk to the baby was very low," said Dr. Frank Mazza, chief patient safety officer, Seton Family of Hospitals. "They wanted to accommodate the mom's desire."

Now a growing number of hospitals are saying no. They're instituting hospital-wide bans against non-medical induction before 39 weeks.

Northwestern University's Dr. William Grobman says it's a matter of benefit versus risk.

"There are increased short-term risks such as having issues that require going to the neonatal intensive care nursery, for example," said Grobman. "But even the longer-term data that have been done suggest greater long-term risks."

For mothers, some evidence show early inductions increase the risk of a C-section procedure.

The March of Dimes has been working with hospitals around the country to put similar policies in place. The organization says while momentum is gaining, there's still much work to be done.