Tommy's PregnancyHub

New survey shows lack of information around induction leaves women feeling unheard and disempowered

A survey of more than 2,000 women in the UK has found that 50% do not feel they had enough information to make an informed choice about induction.
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For many women, this led to disappointing, and even traumatic births, where they used worrying terms like feeling ‘coerced’ or ‘bullied’ to describe their experience of induction. 

The survey was led by Independent UK membership body Patient Information Forum (PIF) in collaboration with our team at Tommy’s, Bliss and Birthrights

The results show that:

  • women ranked fear of induction as their second biggest birth concern (the first being something happening to their baby)
  • two-fifths felt the information they were given about induction was not detailed enough
  • more than half only received verbal information
  • two-thirds were not given enough detail on risks and benefits to make an informed decision
  • two-thirds of the survey respondents reported that they didn’t have supportive conversations with their healthcare professionals.

One in three pregnancies are induced in the UK and new NICE guidelines on induction acknowledge that rates may continue to rise.

The survey made clear that women want more detail on risks, benefits and alternatives to induction, including statistics.

As induction rates rise, it’s vitally important that pregnant people understand their birthing options clearly and feel able to make shared decisions with their healthcare professional. 

How can we improve induction information?

The survey asked women how we can make information on induction better. An analysis of 1,200 comments showed five top suggestions:

1. Women want statistics on risks, benefits and alternatives to induction and what would happen if they waited for birth to start naturally.

2. Women want to know they have a choice about induction and the right to informed consent.

3. When things do not go to plan, women want supportive conversations to understand their options.

4. Women want more information on the process and timeline of induction.

5. There is a need for realistic birth plans to be made sooner.

In response to the survey, Sarah Siguine, our Head of Pregnancy Information commented:

“The lack of clear, balanced, well-timed and evidence-based information around induction is clearly making women feel stressed, not listened to and out of control during labour and birth – which can cause huge emotional distress and trauma.

“Mums should always get a clear explanation of why they’re being offered an induction, with support to compare the risks and benefits for their individual situation. Caregivers must have open conversations with mums, at the most appropriate time, so they can make informed decisions about what’s best for them and their baby. Most importantly, the decision to have an induction should always be the parent’s. At Tommy’s, we’ll be developing new resources focused on induction, to support and empower both caregivers and mums throughout this complex process.”

Patient Information Forum’s recommendations

As a result of the survey, findings, PIF is making a series of recommendations to improve induction information:

1. Support Trusts and Local Maternity Systems to embed and make personalised care and support planning guidance a reality.

2. Improve risk/benefit communication.

3. Embed women’s right to choose using consistent national decision support tools.

4. Maternity services should signpost women to other trusted sources of information and support.

5. Trusts should work through Maternity Voices Partnerships and respond to women’s local information needs.

You can read the full report online at pifonline.org.uk/resources/publications/maternity-decisions.

More support and information about induction

You may be offered an induction if you are overdue, or if your waters have broken but labour has not started. It is up to you whether you have the induction or not and you should be supported in whatever decision you make.

We encourage you to talk to your midwife or doctor about your options for giving birth at any time during your pregnancy, so you can think about what is best for you. Read our information about induction.

You can also talk to our team of Tommy’s midwives. Call our pregnancy line for free on 0800 014 7800 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), or email us at [email protected]