We've talked before about recent research that indicates that many cesareans are performed for "failure to wait" ─ that is, doctors jump to a cesarean too soon, when waiting a bit longer might well have avoided the cesarean alttogether.
We know that far too many inductions are happening, and that inductions on a first-time mom or a mom with an unripe cervix raises the risk of cesarean substantially. Here's yet more proof that, when done, far too many inductions are given up on too soon, and that a tincture of patience can often make a world of difference.
But of course, better yet to avoid inductions entirely that are not truly medically indicated.
Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Feb;117(2, Part 1):267-272. Failed Labor Induction: Toward an Objective Diagnosis.
Rouse DJ, Weiner SJ, Bloom SL, Varner MW, Spong CY, Ramin SM, Caritis SN, Grobman WA, Sorokin Y, Sciscione A, Carpenter MW, Mercer BM, Thorp JM Jr, Malone FD, Harper M, Iams JD, Anderson GD; for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network (MFMU).
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate maternal and perinatal outcomes in women undergoing labor induction with an unfavorable cervix according to duration of oxytocin administration in the latent phase of labor after ruptured membranes.
METHODS: This was a secondary analysis of a randomized multicenter trial in which all cervical examinations from admission were recorded. Inclusion criteria: nulliparas at or beyond 36 weeks of gestation undergoing induction with a cervix of 2 cm or less dilated and less than completely effaced. The latent phase of labor was defined as ending at a cervical dilation of 4 cm and effacement of at least 90%, or at a cervical dilation of 5 cm regardless of effacement.
RESULTS: A total of 1,347 women were analyzed. The overall vaginal delivery rate was 63.2%. Most women had exited the latent phase after 6 hours of oxytocin and membrane rupture (n=939; 69.7%); only 5% remained in the latent phase after 12 hours. The longer the latent phase, the lower the vaginal delivery rate. Even so, 39.4% of the 71 women who remained in the latent phase after 12 hours of oxytocin and membrane rupture were delivered vaginally. Chorioamnionitis, endometritis, or both, and uterine atony were the only maternal adverse outcomes related to latent-phase duration: adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) of 1.12 (1.07, 1.17) and 1.13 (1.06, 1.19), respectively, for each additional hour. Neonatal outcomes were not related to latent-phase duration.
CONCLUSION: Almost 40% of the women who remained in the latent phase after 12 hours of oxytocin and membrane rupture were delivered vaginally. Therefore, it is reasonable to avoid deeming labor induction a failure in the latent phase until oxytocin has been administered for at least 12 hours after membrane rupture.