For most pregnancies, labour progresses naturally. The cervix (the narrow part of the uterus between the uterus and top part of the vagina) keeps dilating and becoming thinner and the contractions keep progressing and this way the baby can be “squeezed” out.
But sometimes labour does not progress fast, and medicines are needed to induce labour (speed the contractions or/and dilate the cervix).
Reasons for inducing labour
- The pregnancy is over-term and has lasted more than 42 weeks which two weeks past your due date
- There is not enough amniotic fluid or you are too "big"
- The mother has pregnancy complications like preclampsia (pregnancy induced high blood pressure) or gestational diabetes that could harm the baby or her
- The mother has an infection in her uterus which can be risky for the baby
- The woman's water has broken, but contractions haven't begun.
- The baby has a growth problem
How is labour induced?
- A suppository (containing medication) is inserted in the vagina near the cervix to “ripen” the cervix (efface it or make it thinner and softer). The advantage of this is that the woman can move about in the delivery room (this helps speed labour further) and the contractions are milder.
- Intravenous medicines to speed and intensify contractions are given to the woman. . A common medicine is called Pitocin (a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin, which is produced naturally in women). Pitocin makes the contractions stronger and more frequent.
- If the water has not broken, then many times the doctors can speed up the contractions by breaking the amniotic sac and letting the amniotic fluid out (also called bursting the water bag)