For women pregnant with big babies, choosing to induce labor can have big benefits, European researchers discovered in a recent study.
The researchers, including Michel Boulvain, MD of Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland, wanted to see if labor induction could lessen the chance of shoulder dystocia in large babies. The condition, in which baby’s head delivers but then one or both shoulders gets stuck, is 10 times more common in oversized babies than in normal-weight babies, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Shoulder dystocia prevents the rest of baby’s body from emerging past the mother’s pelvis, resulting in potential fractures, nerve damage, or even suffocation.
The study examined 800 pregnant women whose sonograms indicated that their babies were in the 95th percentile for weight. About half of the women were chosen for labor induction, while the others were monitored until they gave birth naturally (or induced for other medical reasons). The results were promising: while 6 percent of the infants in the monitored group experienced shoulder dystocia, only 2 percent of infants in the induction group did.
Although labor is usually not induced until full term (at about 39 or 40 weeks), “in the setting of a particularly large fetus, there may be some benefit to induction of labor” during week 37 or 38, Boulvain told Fox News in an email. He explained that if mothers wait until full term, the induction would not reduce baby’s birth weight, so complications would be harder to prevent.
Additionally, in another win against the rumor that induction increases risk for c-sections, the two groups had no difference in c-section rates.