Why is labour being induced?
There are a number of reasons for inducing labour, from a late delivery to a medical complication in pregnancy. The team of midwives at Simply Better Births will be able answer your questions about your proposed induction.
If your pregnancy exceeds 42 weeks you and your baby are at greater risk of complications. The placenta may no longer be able to nourish your baby. The baby may also inhale its first bowel movement or meconium, blocking the airways.
If your waters break and labour does not follow, the longer that is left the risk of infection to both mother and baby increases.
If you have a health condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, bleeding or an infection in your uterus, putting your baby’s health at risk.
If tests show that your baby is no longer growing properly or developing at a normal rate, or the baby’s heart rate is abnormal.
How is labour induced?
Sweeping the membranes
The midwife or doctor will insert a gloved finger into the vagina and move it back and forth to separate the membrane that connects the amniotic sac to the wall of the uterus. This sweeping causes the release of hormones called prostaglandins which ripen the cervix and may lead to contractions.
Ripening the cervix
Manufactured prostaglandins can be used to ripen the cervix and stimulate contractions. These are administered either by mouth or as a gel or pessary into the vagina.
‘Breaking your waters’
If your cervix is partially opened then you may have your waters broken for you. This is a painless procedure and causes no harm to the baby. Once your amniotic sac is broken, contractions should start. In order to prevent infection, delivery should be within 24 hours.
The hormone oxytocin triggers and strengthens contractions. It can be used to induce or move your labour along. It is administered by an intravenous tube into your arm.
Other than a membrane sweep all these procedures are performed in hospital. Some women take longer than others to achieve established labour but if you don’t go into labour with these methods, you may require a caesarean section.