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Labor Induction

Labor induction is a way to help get your labor started. This can protect your health and your baby’s, too.

Ways to Induce Labor

Your health care provider can get your labor started by using any of three methods or a combination of them. Here are some common treatments:

Prostaglandin: A medicine that may be given as a pill, capsule, or vaginal suppository. It softens, thins, and opens the cervix. This is called cervical ripening. Your health care provider may also use a foley catheter or a double balloon catheter. Your health care provider inserts the catheter into your cervix to mechanically dilate it and cause the release of prostaglandins.

Pitocin (oxytocin): A medicine your health care provider gives you through an IV (intravenous) line. You may get it within 4–24 hours after your health care provider gives you prostaglandin. Pitocin helps start contractions. It’s always given in the hospital.

Rupturing the membrane: A procedure in which your health care provider uses a small tool to break your bag of water. Doctors perform this procedure more often in women who have given birth before. And it’s always done in the hospital.

Reasons for inducing labor:

  • Being past the due date

  • Preeclampsia (high blood pressure with related health problems)

  • Certain diseases, such as diabetes

  • Low amniotic fluid

  • A ruptured bag of water or other risk factors that can affect your baby’s health

What to Expect

Prostaglandin may be given in the hospital. Fetal monitoring is required after placement. Other methods of inducing labor are done in the hospital. You’ll need to stay there until you give birth. Your health care provider may attach monitors to your belly to measure contractions and help make sure your baby has no problems. No matter how your doctor induces labor, a few factors may affect how long it takes you to give birth. These include how long it takes for your cervix to thin and open, and when contractions begin.

With labor induction, you may have a greater chance of:

  • A cesarean section (surgical delivery)

  • An infection

  • A longer hospital stay

Give Yourself Time

Even though inducing labor gets the process started, you still may need to wait. Mothers who have labor induced most often give birth within a day or so. But it can take as long as a few days to give birth.


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