Patient Safety During Induction of Labor

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Rates of induction of labor have risen rapidly since 1990, from 9.6% in that year to a peak of 23.8% of the 2010 singleton births in the United States. Even as the definition of term pregnancy has been refined to reflect the continuing maturation needs of the fetus, and mothers have been encouraged to “go the full forty,” management strategies for pregnancy conditions that increase risk have included early induction. Labor induction should only be undertaken when there are specific indications for interrupting the normal processes of pregnancy. These indications may relate to maternal, fetal, or placental conditions or simply reflect the understanding that in all pregnancies, the placenta will eventually lose its ability to adequately provide oxygen, nutrition, and waste removal for the fetus. Patient safety—for both the mother and the child—can be improved when clinicians practice within clinical guidelines that follow the best available evidence and women are able to make informed decisions regarding plans for labor.

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