You wanted
a natural birth,
but your OB
says you may
need to be induced.
Keep calm,
you can prepare
for it.
You wanted
a natural birth,
but your OB
says you may
need to be induced.
Keep calm,
you can prepare
for it.
Has your OB spoken to you about inducing labor?

This is certainly not what you wanted or expected to hear. Just thinking about delivery is stressful and worrisome enough. Adding the word ‘induction’ can ramp up your stress and anxiety even more.

Knowing how inducing labor works, and having an informed and thoughtful discussion with your OB or Midwife can help you understand the facts, choices, and emotions surrounding the induction procedure.

Has your OB spoken to you about inducing labor?

This is certainly not what you wanted or expected to hear. Just thinking about delivery is stressful and worrisome enough. Adding the word ‘induction’ can ramp up your stress and anxiety even more.

Knowing how inducing labor works, and having an informed and thoughtful discussion with your OB or Midwife can help you understand the facts, choices, and emotions surrounding the induction procedure.

What exactly is
labor induction?
The use of medications or other methods to bring on labor1.

Reference: 1. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Labor-Induction

What exactly is
labor induction?
The use of medications or other methods to bring on labor1.

Reference: 1. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Labor-Induction

What is the goal
of labor induction?
The goal is a vaginal birth, following the same process your body typically would go through1.

Reference: 1. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Labor-Induction

What is the goal
of labor induction?
The goal is a vaginal birth, following the same process your body typically would go through1.

Reference: 1. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Labor-Induction

Pre-labor: Dilate and relax the cervix

Here’s a big surprise—the first step in inducing labor has nothing to do with inducing labor. It has to do with your cervix. This step is critically important in the delivery process.

Your cervix is essentially your body’s delivery ‘door’. For your delivery, your cervix needs to open (dilate), soften, and thin out. (The medical term for this is ‘cervical ripening’). Close to the end of your pregnancy, your OB is checking often to see if your cervix is ready. The OB has to check because most women don’t feel their cervix dilating or relaxing.

Pre-labor: Dilate and relax the cervix

If your cervix is not sufficiently ready for labor, your OB has several options to help get the cervix ready so labor can proceed. Here are some of the more commonly used methods your OB or Midwife will use to help ‘ripen’ the cervix:

Vaginal Insert (FDA-Approved)

A removable insert with medicine that looks like a flat tampon

Pill (Cytotec®/misoprostol)

Not FDA approved

Balloon Catheter

An insertable device with an inflatable balloon

Stripping the Membranes

A procedure performed by your OB or Midwife

Induce Labor

Once your cervix is sufficiently dilated and relaxed (ripened), your OB will proceed to the next step, inducing labor.

The purpose of this step is to encourage contractions so that the delivery process can proceed.

The most common approaches to inducing labor are:

IV Drip (Pitocin®/oxytocin)

Breaking the Water (Amniotomy)

a procedure performed by your OB or Midwife

Delivery

Once the contractions have reached a certain level and your cervix is completely dilated and relaxed, and the OB or midwife tells you that it is time to push, the labor induction process is over, and the vaginal delivery can proceed.

FAQs
The following are questions you may have. We strongly suggest that you discuss any questions you may have with your OB and/or Midwife:
  • What is labor induction?
    The use of medications or other methods to bring on labor1.
  • Why is labor induction needed? Why can’t I just wait until my baby comes naturally?
    Your Ob or Midwife typically recommends induction when you are at or past your due date and your body is showing no signs of labor. Although there can be complications at any time in your pregnancy, issues concerning your baby’s health increase past your due date. Simply ‘waiting for it to happen’ becomes too risky at some point. The major area of concern is a decrease in the nutrients from the placenta in the very late weeks of pregnancy.1
  • How common are inductions?
    Very common. Nearly 1 out of every 4 women in the U.S. starts labor with induction.2
  • Is inducing labor more likely to result in a C-section?3
    Recent studies have shown that inductions in week 39 or later are not more likely to end in C-sections, and may even result in a lower frequency of C-sections. Prior to week 39, studies do point toward a higher frequency of C-sections.3
  • What are the natural ways to induce labor, and do they work?
    Many women look for ways to induce labor naturally in order to jumpstart labor at home and avoid the medical procedure.

Unfortunately, there are no clinical studies that prove that any of these methods work. Please keep in mind that any method involves risks, so it is always suggested that you discuss these natural methods with your OB and/or Midwife prior to trying them on your own. There are many ways that are suggested to start labor. These methods include:4

  • Nipple Stimulation
  • Walking
  • Having Sex
  • Acupuncture/Acupressure
  • Evening Primrose Oil
  • Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
  • Castor oil
  • Enemas
  • Homeopathics
  • Spicy Foods
  • Pineapple
  • Dates
  • Relaxation

What type of pain can be expected from inducing labor?

Since there can be two parts to inducing labor, Pre-labor and Labor itself, there are different pain management issues associated with each step and method. Plus, keep in mind that each individual has her own threshold for pain.

In our Induction Guide, we provide information for a discussion on pain management with your OB and/or Midwife for both the Pre-Labor or Labor Induction steps. Having this discussion with your OB can help you prepare in advance for each step and help you understand the methods available for dealing with pain.

References:
1. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Labor-Induction. 2.  http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db155.htm.
3. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/absolutely-maybe/induced-labor-decreases-rate-of-cesareans-study-finds/.
4. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0515/p2123.html.

 
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