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 doctor 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's placed in your vagina. It may be given as a time-release stick. It softens, thins, and opens the cervix. This is called cervical ripening.
Pitocin: A medicine that's given through an IV (intravenous) line. You may get it within 4-24 hours of being given prostaglandin. Pitocin helps start contractions. It's always given in the hospital.
Rupturing the membrane: A procedure that uses a small tool to break your bag of water. It's done 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 the baby's health
What to Expect
Prostaglandin may be given in your doctor's office. You may then be sent home to wait for your cervix to ripen. Other methods of inducing labor are done in the hospital. You'll need to stay there until you give birth. Monitors may be attached to your belly to measure contractions and help make sure your baby has no problems. No matter how labor is induced, 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.
If You're Sent Home
In some cases of cervical ripening, you may be sent home for a while. But be ready to go to the hospital as soon as you feel regular and strong contractions. You should go to the hospital right away if your bag of water breaks or if you can't feel your baby move.