Induction of labour

Chart title: Induction of labour for selected women giving birth for the first time, by State/territory of birth and all Australia, 2004 to 2019.

This chart shows the proportion of induced labour for selected women giving birth for the first time, by state/territory of birth, 2004 to 2019.  Data can be viewed for each state/territory of birth, and for all Australia. The proportion for selected women induced in giving birth for the first time increased from 31.0% in 2004 to 46.8% in 2019.

Selected women

Selected women include those aged between 20 and 34 years, whose baby’s gestational age at birth was between 37 and 41 completed weeks, whose baby was a singleton and whose baby’s presentation was vertex.

Comparison of ‘selected’ groups of women allows for an indication of standard practice. Selected women, for this indicator, refers to a cohort of mothers who are expected to have reduced labour complications and better birth outcomes. The proportion of selected women is approximately one-third (29.2%) of all women who gave birth in 2019.

Clinical commentary

Induction is an intervention to stimulate the onset of labour. When induction of labour is indicated on medical grounds, it is undertaken when the risks of continuing the pregnancy are greater than the risks associated with being born (McDonnell 2011). For the woman to make a fully informed decision, clear information should be given regarding the risks of continuing the pregnancy and awaiting the spontaneous onset of labour versus the risks of the intervention of induction.

Maternal factors such as wellbeing, cervical assessment, parity and previous mode of delivery, and fetal factors such as gestational age, growth and wellbeing of the fetus need to be considered when deciding whether labour should be induced (McCarthy & Kenny 2013). These factors also assist in determining the method of induction, which can be surgical (including artificial rupture of membranes) or medical (including use of prostaglandins and/or oxytocin) (AHMAC 2012; Queensland Health 2017).

There are numerous indications for induction of labour. Prolonged pregnancy is the most common indication, with births after 42 weeks associated with increased risk for the baby and perinatal death (Gulmezoglu et al. 2012). It is widely recommended that induction be offered to women at 41–42 weeks of gestation (Gulmezoglu et al. 2012; NICE 2008; Queensland Health 2017).

Indicator specifications and data

Excel source data tables are available from the Data tab.

For more information refer to Specifications and notes for analysis in the technical notes.