Best to induce labor in the morning, study hints

If labor needs to be induced in pregnant women, it’s better to do it in the morning rather than in the evening, a study shows. Inducing labor in the morning is associated with fewer complications, according to the study conducted in Australia and reported in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Jodie M. Dodd of the University of Adelaide and her associates hypothesized that inducing labor in the morning is more reflective of the natural timing of labor onset, resulting in spontaneous birth in the evening and early hours of the morning.

Their study included 620 women scheduled for induced labor for various reasons. Two hundred-eighty women were randomly assigned to labor induction in the morning and 340 to induction in the evening.

The investigators found that women who began labor induction in the morning were significantly less likely to require an infusion of the hormone oxytocin to move contractions along than women induced in the evening (45 percent versus 54 percent).

Morning induction was also associated a significantly lower duration of labor among women. Moreover, instrumental vaginal birth was required significantly less often among women induced in the morning.

There were no other statistically significant differences between the groups for maternal or infant complications, including incidence of vaginal birth within 24 hours, uterine hyperstimulation with associated changes in fetal heart rate, or cesarean delivery.

For women who require labor induction, labor at night with birth during daytime hours is more convenient for staff members, most of whom work during the day rather than in the evening or night.

But Dodd and her associates conclude, based on their research, that “for women who require induction of labor, consideration should be given to admission in the morning.”

SOURCE: Obstetrics and Gynecology August 2006.

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Revision date: July 5, 2011
Last revised: by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.