Onset of labour

Labour can occur spontaneously or may be induced by medical or surgical intervention. If there is no labour, a caesarean section is performed.

About 2 in 5 mothers who gave birth had a spontaneous labour, around 1 in 3 had induced labour and 1 in 5 had no labour. Labour onset varied considerably by maternal age group. Teenage mothers (aged under 20) were the most likely to have spontaneous labour, and mothers aged 40 or over were the most likely to have no labour onset.

Onset of labour varied considerably by the number of babies born from a single pregnancy, with women who had a multiple pregnancy being more likely to have no labour than women with a singleton pregnancy. Since 2010, the rate of spontaneous labour has fallen slightly with corresponding increases in the rates of no labour and induced labour.