Induction of labor is the medical process of stimulating uterine contractions to start labor when a woman is overdue or her health is at risk.
It’s finally time! You’re at the end of your pregnancy, and you can’t wait to meet your little one. But what do you do if your baby doesn’t want to come out? In some cases, labor needs to be induced.
This blog post will explain everything you need to know about inducing labor, from the methods used to the risks involved. We’ll also discuss how labor induction can affect your delivery or your baby’s health. So read on for all the information you need before making this important decision.
What is induction of labor?
Induction of labor also known as inducing labor is the medical process of stimulating uterine contractions to start labor. It can be done for several reasons, including when a woman is overdue or her health is at risk.
The women should be informed about the benefits, potential complications, and the possibility of cesarean delivery.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), labor should be induced only when it is riskier for the baby to remain inside the mother’s uterus than to be born.
Why is labor induced?
There are many reasons why your doctor may recommend labor induction. The most common reason is that you are past your due date (post maturity) and the risks of remaining pregnant are greater than the risks of induction.
Other reasons for inducing labor include:
- You have a health condition that could be made worse by pregnancy, such as preeclampsia or diabetes (gestational diabetes)
- You have high blood pressure
- Your baby is not growing as he or she should
- You are carrying more than one baby
- You have a placenta previa, which is when the placenta covers part or all of your cervix
- Your amniotic sac breaks but labor have not begun.
- Intrauterine fetal death
- Chronic hydramnios (polyhydramnios or oligohydramnios)
- Fetus with major congenital malformation
- Certain medical conditions such as kidney disease
If you’ve had a stillbirth before, your healthcare professional may recommend labor induction. Inducing delivery might help your baby’s health and avoid another stillbirth.
Inducing labor should only be for medical problems. If you pass your due date, your doctor or midwife may recommend inducing labor in the hospital.
How is labor induction done?
Several methods can be used to induce labor, and your doctor will choose the one that is best for you based on your situation. The most common methods are:
Stripping or sweeping the membranes: This involves your doctor manually separating the amniotic membrane from the uterine wall. This can stimulate contractions and cause your water to break.
Artificial rupture of the membranes: This is also known as an amniotomy. It involves your doctor rupturing the amniotic sac with a small hook. This can trigger contractions and start labor. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for blood and meconium in the amniotic fluid. It’s also possible for the umbilical cord to fall out first, which requires monitoring.
Certain medications help your cervix to soften and contract to induce labor. These medications include:
Prostaglandins: These are hormones that help in cervical ripening and stimulate contractions. Prostaglandins can be given as a gel or suppository, or they may be placed directly on the cervix.
Oxytocin: This is a hormone that can be used to stimulate or strengthen contractions. Hormone oxytocin can be given intravenously (through a vein in your arm) or intramuscularly (into your muscle).
Mifepristone: It is also found effective to ripen the cervix and inducing labor. It is administered vaginally.
How long does labor take when induced?
The answer to this question is different for every woman. It depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy, the method used to induce labor, and your body. In general, though, you can expect the process to take anywhere from a few hours to a full day.
What are the risks of labor induction?
Labor induction carries some risks, as does any medical procedure. The most common complication is that labor does not progress and a cesarean delivery becomes necessary. Other risks include:
Uterine rupture: This is a rare but serious complication that can occur when the uterus tears along the scar from a previous cesarean delivery or other surgery.
Infection: When labor is induced, there is an increased risk of infection for both you and your baby.
Fetal distress: This is when your baby is not getting enough oxygen and can happen when contractions are too strong or too close together.
Umbilical cord prolapse: If the amniotic sac is broken, the cord may slip into the vagina before your baby does.
Premature birth: Inducing labor before 39 weeks carries a higher risk of premature birth, which can cause health problems for your baby.
What are the side effects of inducing labor?
The most common side effect of labor induction is discomfort. The contractions caused by the medication can be strong and painful. You will likely be given pain medication to help manage the pain. Other side effects can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Anxiety or nervousness
How long after induction does the baby arrive?
This is a question that’s often asked, and unfortunately, there’s no one answer. It largely depends on the individual woman and her body. However, some general things can give you an idea of how long the process may take.
On average, induction takes about 12 to 24 hours. However, this can vary depending on how your body responds to the medication. Some women may go into labor very quickly, while others may take a bit longer.
If you’re induced with Pitocin, the medication will be slowly increased until labor is established. This can take a few hours, or it may take all day. It just depends on your body and how it responds to the medication.
How do you prepare?
Labor induction is performed at a hospital or birthing center, where your baby is monitored or available for labor and delivery if needed.
What happens when you get induced?
The doctor or midwife will start labor by breaking your water. They do this by placing a small plastic hook through your cervix and into your amniotic sac. Then they will use a syringe to draw out some of the fluid. This usually takes about 15 minutes. Rupturing the amniotic sac may cause the umbilical cord to slip out of your vagina before your baby which should be monitored frequently.
After your water has been broken, the doctor will most likely start you on a Pitocin drip. Pitocin is a synthetic form of oxytocin, which is the hormone that your body naturally produces during labor. The Pitocin drip will help to speed up your contractions.
You will be hooked up to a monitor so that the doctor can keep track of your contractions and your baby’s heart rate. You will also be given an IV so that you can stay hydrated. The whole process usually takes about six hours.
Once you are in active labor, the doctor will start you on a stronger Pitocin drip. This will help you to have more intense contractions. You may also be given an epidural at this point.
The doctor will continue to monitor you and your baby throughout the labor process. Once you are fully dilated, it is time to start pushing. This usually takes about two hours.
After you have delivered your baby, the doctor will deliver the placenta. You will then be taken to a recovery room, where you will be monitored for a few hours. Once you are discharged, you can go home and rest with your new bundle of joy.
If you have any questions about inducing labor, be sure to talk to your doctor.
In most situations, labor induction results in a vaginal delivery. If labor induction does not work, you might have to try another induction or have a cesarean birth.
What are the effects of labor induction on the baby?
Inducing labor is a medical intervention that can be used to start the birthing process. It is typically only recommended when there are medical concerns for either the mother or baby, and it is not without risks.
One of the most common concerns with inducing labor is the potential for fetal distress. This occurs when the baby’s oxygen supply is compromised during labor and delivery. Fetal distress can lead to several complications, including cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and even death.
Additionally, inducing labor can also increase the risk for maternal complications, such as uterine rupture and hemorrhage. Despite the risks, induction may be the best option for some mothers and babies, and it is important to discuss all of your options with your healthcare provider.
If you are considering inducing labor, or if your healthcare provider has recommended it, be sure to ask about all of the risks and benefits involved. This is a decision that should not be made lightly, and you need to be sure that you are comfortable with the risks before proceeding. Inducing labor is a serious medical intervention, but it can be safe and successful when it is done under the care of a qualified healthcare team.