Induction of Labor

What is induction of labor?

Induction of labor is the use of artificial means, such as medication to start the process of childbirth.

When is it used?

The following conditions may be reasons for inducing labor :

  • pregnancy has continued 1 or more weeks past the due date
  • the mother has high blood pressure caused by pregnancy (also called pre-eclampsia,  or PIH)
  • infection of the amniotic sac
  • early rupture of the membranes without labor
  • poor growth of the baby
  • Rh incompatibility between the mother and baby
  • diabetes in pregnancy
  • kidney disease
  • suspected fetal distress
  • death of the baby prior to birth

Before inducing labor, the doctor will check the cervix to see if it is thin or dilating and will check the baby’s position in the uterus.  In some cases, the doctor may also test the maturity of the baby’s lungs by testing a sample of the amniotic fluid around the baby.

What happens during the procedure?

The procedure takes place in the labor and delivery area of the hospital.  Most commonly labor is induced by Amniotomy, Pitocin and Prostaglandin gel.

  • Anmiotomy or breaking the bag of water.
    Using a thin piece of plastic with a hooked end, like a crochet hook, the Doctor will make a tiny tear in the bag of water during a pelvic exam.  This will cause the water to start leaking out and labor to begin.
  • Prostaglandin Gels
    If the cervix is less than 3 centimeters dilated or is not very effaced (or thinned out) this can be used.  Usually this is done prior to using Pitocin.  Frequently it will be given over the course of an evening or night.
  • Pitocin
    This is an artificial version of the body’s own hormone oxytocin.  It is given by IV and used to cause contractions.  The amount of Pitocin used will depend on how your body responds to it.  Generally, the amount is increased every 15-30 minutes until a good contraction pattern is achieved.

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