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Reasons why a labour may be induced

Reasons why a labour may be induced


The history of induction

Medical reasons for induction

Elective reasons for induction

The history of Induction

Women and healers have practiced the induction of labour for centuries. At various times, women from indigenous tribes, ancient western and eastern cultures, medieval and Victorian eras have needed (or wanted) to use something to 'bring labour on'. Inducing the labour may have been tried, and / or achieved, by using herbs, tonics, remedies or exercises. It was not until the 1960's that medical drugs were developed to 'induce labour'.

After the discovery of a synthetic form of the oxytocin hormone, (now called 'Syntocinon'), medical caregivers started to prescribe the induction of labour to pregnant women for various medical reasons. By the mid 1970's, caregivers had become so enthused about being able to 'control' the start of labour, that as many as 60 to 90% of all babies in western countries were being induced. This controversial practice then started to come under the scrutiny of researchers, who eventually discovered that inducing everyone was not really a good idea, and at times could be harmful. The research suggested that only the few mothers and babies who really needed induction for a good medical reason, actually benefited from being induced. The others, who did not need it, often suffered unwanted side effects from being induced unnecessarily.

In recent years, caregivers have tried to concentrate more on identifying which women (and their babies) will benefit from being induced, and when the best time is to induce. Even so, practices can still vary widely, with some caregivers inducing 3 to 5 % of the women they care for, and others inducing 30 to 35 % of women.

As a guide, labours are generally induced for 2 main reasons:

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