What you Need to Know About Induced Labour

Maternity Care

Tammy George

For some pregnant women, labour doesn’t begin naturally. If your baby is overdue or you are at risk of a medical issue, your doctor or obstetrician may recommend an induction. Bringing on labour is usually carried out to ensure the best outcome for mother and baby.     

When is Induced Labour Recommended

Your doctor or obstetrician will likely discuss the reasons for being induced, potential risks if you wait for labour to begin on its own and how they plan to do the induction.

The most common reasons for inducing labour include:

  • Baby is overdue and the placenta may not be able to sustain the baby’s life

  • Waters broke 24 hours earlier but labour hasn’t begun

  • Mother has developed gestational diabetes during the pregnancy

  • Mother has high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia    

  • Concerns about the baby’s health

Types of Induction

Once it has been decided that induction is the best option, your doctor or obstetrician may recommend one of the following methods of inducing labour.

Cervical Sweep

A cervical or membrane sweep can stimulate labour by encouraging the cervix to release prostaglandins which helps trigger labour. For some women, one sweep is enough for labour to start while others may need more than one. If multiple sweeps haven’t worked another method of induction may be used. A sweep may be used if a first-time mother is over 40 weeks pregnant. The procedure is usually more uncomfortable than painful.

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Breaking Waters

A doctor or midwife may break the waters to induce labour. Making a hole in the membrane sac to release the waters may start labour but some women will need oxytocin as well.   

Oxytocin

When a woman goes into labour, her body produces oxytocin. To encourage labour, a synthetic form of oxytocin can be used to begin contractions. The drug is administered via an intravenous drip into the bloodstream. Early contractions can be more painful than with labour that has not included oxytocin.  

Prostaglandin

A synthetic form of the hormone prostaglandin can be used to start labour. A pessary or gel is inserted into the vagina to soften and open the cervix. Multiple doses may be needed over a period of 12 to 24 hours so that the prostaglandin is slowly released. After this time, oxytocin may be used to begin contractions.   

Cervical Ripening Balloon Catheter

A thin tube with a balloon on the end is filled with saline to soften and open the cervix. After 15 hours the balloon will be removed if it hasn’t already fallen out. For some women, this is enough to start labour but for others, they will need oxytocin or have their waters broken.  

An induction may not be how you imagined going into labour but listening to the advice of your doctor and asking any questions is the safest option.

HIF Maternity Cover

The years spent creating your family are when you rely most on quality hospital cover. Take a look at the benefits included in HIF’s pregnancy insurance and enjoy peace of mind knowing you have the right health cover when you need it most.  

Tammy George

Please note: Tammy's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic please consult your healthcare professional.

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