Background: Induction of labour is a common intervention in obstetric practice. Traditionally, in most hospitals induction of labour with medication starts early in the morning, with the start of the working day for the day shift. In human and animal studies spontaneous onset of labour is proven to have a circadian rhythm with a preference for start of labour in the evening. Moreover, when spontaneous labour starts in the evening, the total duration of labour and delivery shortens and fewer obstetric interventions are needed. Based on these observations one might assume that starting induction of labour in the evening, in harmony with the circadian rhythm of natural birth, is more beneficial for both mother and child. Objectives: To assess whether induction of labour starting in the evening, coinciding with the endogenous circadian rhythm, improves the outcome of labour compared with induction of labour starting in the early morning, organised to coincide with office hours. Search methods: We contacted the Trials Search Co-ordinator to search the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (28 February 2012). In addition, we searched MEDLINE (1966 to 16 February 2012) and EMBASE (1980 to 16 February 2012). Selection criteria: We included all published and unpublished randomised controlled trials. We excluded trials that employed quasi-random methods of treatment allocation. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently assessed trials for inclusion and risk of bias. Two review authors independently extracted data. Data were checked for accuracy. Where necessary, we contacted study authors for additional information. Main results: The search resulted in 2693 articles that we screened on title and abstract for eligibility.Thirteen studies were selected for full text assessment. We included three randomised trials involving 1150 women. Two trials compared the administration of prostaglandins in the morning versus the evening in women with an unfavourable cervix, and one trial compared induction of labour in the morning versus the evening in women with a favourable cervix and/or ruptured membranes with intravenous oxytocin. Because of the different mechanism, we have reported results for these two comparisons separately. In the two trials comparing prostaglandins in the morning versus the evening there were few clinically significant differences between study groups for maternal or neonatal outcomes. One study reported a statistically significant preference by women to start induction of labour with prostaglandins in the morning. In the trial examining induction of labour with intravenous oxytocin, the number of neonatal admissions was statistically significantly increased in the group of women that started induction in the morning. This finding was unexpected, and while the trial authors offered some possible explanations for this, it is important that any future trials examine neonatal outcomes. Authors' conclusions: Taking into account women's preferences that favoured administration of prostaglandins in the morning, we conclude that caregivers should preferably consider administering prostaglandins in the morning. There is no strong evidence that induction of labour with intravenous oxytocin in the evening is more or less effective than induction in the morning. Consideration may be given to start induction of labour with oxytocin in the evening when indicated.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)