Labor is a process that generally happens naturally in most women. However, it is estimated that 25% of women will need induction of their labor. Labor induction (also known as inducing labor) is stimulating the uterus by external means for faster childbirth through the vagina. This procedure has been increasingly done since the year 1996.
Doctors induce labor in any of the following ways:
- Use of synthetic prostaglandins: Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that are naturally released by the body during labor. When labor fails to start by itself, their synthetic preparation can be administered in the form of a vaginal gel, vaginal insert, or oral pills. They work by thinning or softening (ripening) the cervix. This helps the cervix in responding to the contractions of the uterus, which then opens.
- Amniotomy: This means rupturing the amniotic sac. Your doctor uses his fingers or a hook to make a small opening in the amniotic sac and rupture it. This results in ‘water breaking;’ the woman can feel a warm gush of fluid with the opening of the sac.
- Use of oxytocin: Oxytocin is a hormone that increases the contractions of the uterus. It is available in synthetic form and given intravenously to induce labor or speed up the labor process.
The doctor can also use a combination of any of the above procedures to induce labor. They will monitor the number of contractions and the baby’s heart rate throughout the induction process.
Different women have different speeds of progressing into labor. Even if induction of labor happens, the time after which the delivery will take place depends on
- The time it takes for the cervix to ripen.
- The type of induction technique used.
- The body’s response to that particular method of induction.
It may take a few hours to 2–3 days for the successful induction of labor (the result being a vaginal delivery).
Why do doctors induce labor?
It is not always necessary to induce labor. Doctors induce labor when
- Labor fails to start by itself even after crossing two weeks beyond the due date.
- There is less amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac, which surrounds the baby.
- The amniotic sac has ruptured but labor did not start.
- There is an infection in the uterus.
- The baby weighs less for its gestational age.
- The mother develops diabetes or hypertension during pregnancy.
- The placenta gets separated from the uterus.
Induction can also be induced electively without having any of the reasons above. This may be carried out if the pregnant woman is full-term and
- Has a history of rapid vaginal deliveries
- Stays far away from the hospital or medical center
What are the risks of inducing labor?
Labor induction carries various possible risks, including:
- Induction failure: Induction of labor fails in around 25% of women when induction has been attempted. At such times, doctors may have no option but to go for a cesarean section.
- Infection: If the amniotic sac remains ruptured for a long time even after trying ways to induce labor, it may get infected.
- A low heart rate of the baby: The medicines used to induce the labor may affect the baby’s oxygen levels and cause its heart rate to become low.
- Bleeding: The induction process may end up affecting the capacity of the uterus to relax. The contracted state of the uterus may result in bleeding after the delivery.
Women should stay away from risky tricks, such as consuming castor oil, exercising, or having sex to induce labor. They should know that labor induction is not for everyone. Only the doctor can decide the right candidates for whom labor can be induced with safe and evidence-based methods.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Labor induction. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/labor-induction/about/pac-20385141
Top How Do They Induce Labor? Related Articles
Childbirth Delivery Methods and TypesThere are various childbirth delivery methods and types such as the Lamaze method, the Bradley method, water birth, and assisted births. Options for where a woman can deliver her baby include home birth, a birthing center, and a hospital. The method and type of labor and delivery options should be discussed with a woman's doctor.
Braxton Hicks Contractions (False Labor)
Braxton hicks contractions are also known as false labor pains. Though these irregular uterine contractions may occur in the second trimester, they're more likely to occur during the third trimester of pregnancy. Unlike true labor pains, false labor pains are often irregular, may stop when you walk, rest, or change positions, and the contractions do not get closer together or stronger.
Braxton Hicks vs. True Labor: How to Tell the DifferenceSome pregnant women may mistake Braxton Hicks contractions (false labor) for real labor contractions, especially in the first pregnancy. Real labor contractions occur at regular intervals that become progressively shorter; more painful as labor progresses; are described as a tightening, pounding, or stabbing pain. Braxton Hicks contractions do not occur in regular intervals; do not become longer over time; and may disappear for a period of time and then return. Braxton Hicks contractions occur in third trimester of pregnancy, however, sometimes can occur in the second trimester. True labor contractions begin around your due date (unless your baby is preterm, in which you will be in preterm labor). So how can you tell the difference? Here are a few similarities and differences between Braxton Hicks contractions and True or real labor contractions.
Braxton Hicks contractions
Braxton Hicks contractions tend to become more frequent toward the end of pregnancy, and are not as painful as real labor contractions; do not occur in regular intervals; do not become longer over time; and may disappear for a period of time and then return.
Frequently one of the early symptoms and signs of true labor is when the contractions begin to occur less than 10 minutes apart.
Real labor contractions occur at regular intervals that become progressively shorter; more painful as labor progresses; are described as a tightening, pounding, or stabbing pain; may feel similar to menstrual cramps; and sometimes Braxton Hicks contractions can be triggered by dehydration, sexual intercourse, increased activity of the mother or baby, touching of the pregnant woman's abdomen, or a distended bladder.
Natural and home remedies to soothe and provide comfort for Braxton Hicks contractions include relaxation exercises like deep breathing or mental relaxation; change positions or take a walk if you have been active and rest; drink a glass of herbal tea or water; eat; or soak in a warm bath for 30 minutes (or less).
Preterm labor signs and symptomsWhen you have reached 37 weeks, and the contractions are more painful and are increasing in frequency you will have abdominal pain or menstrual-like cramping, an increase in pelvic pressure or back pain, and the contractions are more than four contractions an hour.
Braxton-Hicks Contractions vs Real ContractionsBraxton-Hicks contractions are usually painless contractions that begin in the first trimester (usually around the 6th week) of pregnancy. Unlike Braxton-Hicks contractions, real labor contractions occur at regular intervals that decrease over time, they become stronger and longer over time and a change in position doesn't relieve the pain and discomfort.
Labor Symptoms (Early Signs)Every woman's experience with labor and delivery is unique for each woman, and thus "Normal" labor varies from woman to woman. Some of the common signs and symptoms of normal labor include the "baby dropping," increase urination, back pain, contractions, and diarrhea.
How Do Contractions Feel When They First Start?Labor contractions, popularly known as contractions, refer to the tightening of a pregnant woman’s uterus (womb). Contractions feel like a gradual tightening of the abdominal muscles that increases in intensity and then relaxes.
Pregnancy: Multiple Births, Twins, Triplets, and MoreMultiple births occur when a woman bears twins, triplets, or even more babies during pregnancy. More multiples are born today thanks to assisted reproductive technology (ART), including in vitro fertilization using fertility drugs. Women carrying multiples often give birth via C-section.
What Are the Benefits and Risks of Assisted Ventilation of the Newborn?To provide a baby assisted ventilation, a mechanical ventilator pumps oxygen to the lungs at pressure until the baby’s respiratory system works normally. This can help kickstart the baby’s breathing reflex if it’s compromised by underdevelopment or some congenital condition, but it may also lead to lung trauma.
Why Is an Epidural So Bad?An epidural is a form of regional anesthesia that blocks pain in a particular region of the body. Most epidural side effects are rare and may include soreness, nausea, shivering, drop in blood pressure, ear ringing, difficulty urinating, backache and soreness.
Why Would A Newborn Need A Ventilator?Some babies may have trouble breathing. Respiratory distress or failure may be the result of underdeveloped lungs or a congenital condition. The mechanical ventilator provides oxygen until the baby can breathe unassisted.