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.
Induction of labour is performed for a number of reasons, and most inductions are performed for indications related to maternal or baby medical conditions or obstetric complications (Coates et al 2020; AIHW 2022). Whilst most women who have induced labour – and their babies – do well, induction of labour does increase the risk of infection and bleeding, and a less positive birth experience when compared to spontaneous labour (Coates et al 2020; Grivell et al 2012).
In 2020, 45% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females who gave birth had spontaneous labour, 36% had induced labour and 19% had no labour (compared with 41%, 36% and 24%, respectively, for non-Indigenous females).
Over time, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers who had spontaneous labour has decreased (from 68% in 2005 to 45% in 2020), with a corresponding increase in the proportion who had induced labour from a low of 20% in 2008 to 36% in 2020.
The data visualisation below shows the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous females who gave birth by onset of labour, from 2005.
Figure 1: Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous females who gave birth by onset of labour from 2005 to 2020