Just shy of 4 million babies are born in the U.S. every year. That’s the equivalent of 12.4 births per 1,000 residents which is more than the annual number of marriages or divorces nationwide. The discovery and arrival of a baby is often a blessed event for so many new parents and extended family members or loved ones. But that miracle can also quickly turn into a parent’s worst nightmare with little or no warning. One minute the water’s fine and the next minute an unexpected birth defect or traumatic birth injury takes the wind out of everyone’s sails. While there are several causes for such a life-shattering event, there is quite a bit of concern that it can happen right in the unlikeliest places: the birthing or labor room. But can labor-inducing drugs really lead to a birth injury issue?
Why Is Labor Induced and What’s the Big Deal About It?
Birth is not just a natural miracle, it’s also considered a major surgical procedure. As of 2015, almost two-thirds of mothers delivered naturally while almost one-third opted or needed cesarean deliveries. Human gestation has traditionally been considered 40 weeks. But that base number is inconsistent across the board and is dependent on multiple factors, including the health and stress levels of the mother. Large or high-risk fetuses are often born via C-section. But medical practitioners encourage mothers of pregnancies considered healthy enough for the fetus to be born naturally to do so.
Pregnancy can go well over the expected gestational period, however. Higher risks such as stillbirth, perinatal, and neonatal death are associated with longer pregnancies. Many doctors encourage induced labor at 39 weeks to ensure extended gestation doesn’t occur for that reason. Medically induced labors also come with big claims that they’ll ease the discomfort of labor or at least speed it up. And in many cases, they at least do the latter. But at what cost?
What Are Some Common Labor-Inducing Medications and Are They Worth the Risk?
According to the 2013 Listening to Mothers III: Pregnancy and Birth Medicines survey, over 25% of mothers during the prior year had their expected due dates changed within the last trimester, and 30% of the women surveyed were medically induced. Women with pre-existing health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or pregnancy concerns like preeclampsia or placenta abruption may require being induced during natural childbirth. But otherwise, it’s generally opted for convenience and pain relief. While many women have trouble-free births on pain and inducing medications, problems can easily arise for others.
Narcotics and pain relievers in common epidurals and spine blockers allow mothers to be awake during birth but often result in serious complications. Pitocin is a synthetic hormone that creates uterine contractions. But high or incorrect doses of Pitocin and other pain meds such as opioid drips can lead to circulation problems, a severe drop in blood pressure, spinal fluid leakage, nausea, dizziness, and other complications. The medications can also cause intense contractions that can cause extra stress to the fetus and potentially lead to birth injuries such as fractured bones, neurological or developmental injuries, and even permanent disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy. Only 10% of annual births actually require extra medical intervention to keep the mother or child safe during delivery, so it may be worthy to consider alternative pain control options. And if the unthinkable still happens and you’re facing an uncertain future due to delivery issues, the right birth injury attorney is just a call away.