A straightforward natural labour with the least intervention is top of every mum-to-be's wish-list, but in some situations induction is necessary or advisable.
Why might you be induced?
The most common reasons for induction of labour are as follows:
- If you are more than 10 days past your due date and there is evidence that the placenta is failing
- If you have pre-eclampsia
- If the baby is not growing well
- If the waters break but there are no contractions after 24 hours
- If there is a significant placental abruption
- If you have diabetes and the baby is large
If it is necessary to induce labour, your obstetrician or consultant should explain clearly the reasons, options and procedure so you have a clear idea of why and how you will be induced and can give consent from a position of knowledge.
How might you be induced?
There are several methods of starting labour by way of intervention. These include:
- Insertion of a prostaglandin pessary or gel into the vagina to soften the cervix.
- Breaking the waters using an instrument that looks rather like a long crochet hook (sounds gruesome but you won't be aware of it!).
- Using an intra-venous drip containing a chemical called syntocinon, which is very similar to oxytocin - a human hormone that is produced at the beginning of spontaneous labour. You are unlikely to be given syntocinon if you have previously had a caesarean as it can put extra stress on your uterus.
What to expect during labour
The disadvantages associated with induced labour are that the labour may be very long, or may produce very rapid and fierce contractions that the mother might have difficulty coping with. This is not always the case, however.
Induced labour may stress the baby and is more likely to lead to an assisted delivery. Constant monitoring is necessary if you have a syntocinon drip, but intermittent monitoring is sufficient with other methods of induction.
Remember, induction does not always work.
When labour needs speeding up
If labour is very slow, the midwife may ask the mother if she would like to have her waters broken or go on a syntocinon drip to speed things up - the mother can choose which she prefers.