Why might my care provider recommend induction?

You care provider may recommend induction of labor for a few reasons:

  • Your provider expects pregnancy complications. In a small number of pregnancies, there could be problems that threaten your health, your baby’s health or both. For example, if you develop preeclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy), induction of labor can protect you and your baby from serious illness or even death.
  • You have a preexisting medical problem. If you have chronic health problems before pregnancy, such as heart disease, diabetes or certain autoimmune diseases, you and your care provider may consider induction to prevent any complications related to these conditions.
  • You’ve developed some other risk factor. Your care provider may recommend induction because a risk factor has developed. A risk factor is not a true complication or disease, but is a test result, clinical observation or other factor that increases the chance of health problems or labor complications. Examples include ruptured membranes (broken water) before labor, which may increase the chance of infection; pregnancy that has reached 41 weeks; and your provider’s suspicion that the baby is large, which may increase the chance of difficult labor or newborn injury. It’s important to understand that induction may or may not lower your risk based on these factors, so be sure to understand all the risk and benefits ahead of time.
  • There are other non-medical reasons. Some caregivers offer induction, or agree to a woman's request for induction, for reasons other than health. For example, a care provider may offer induction on a day that she or he will be on call so you give birth with your familiar provider.

The Research and Evidence page will tell you which of these common reasons are backed by solid studies, and which have been disproven or need clearer research. This information will help you speak with your care provider and make wise decisions if labor induction is suggested.