What is Induction of labour?
Labour usually starts naturally between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy when regular strong contractions in your uterus (womb) open the cervix (neck of the womb) so that the baby can pass down the vagina and be born. Sometimes this doesn’t happen or there is a reason why it is necessary to bring labour on before it starts naturally, this is called Induction of Labour.
Induction of labour usually involves a medication (oxytocinin an Intravenous drip) combined with breaking of the waters in front of the baby’s head (artificial rupture of membranes or ARM). This takes place in the Maternity Unit birth suite.
If your cervix is very ‘favourable’ and ready for birth, ARM/oxytocin is all that is needed to get labour started.
In many cases however, the cervix is ‘less favourable’ and treatment is required the day before the induction to soften and open the cervix. This increases the success of the induction and reduces the length of labour, this is called Cervical Ripening.
The usual way of ripening the cervix is to insert a small soft Foley catheter balloon into your cervix. This causes the release of a natural hormone called prostaglandin.
An alternative is to insert a synthetic prostaglandin called Prostin Gel or a prostaglandin pessary [Cervadil] into your vagina. Your GP Obstetrician and Midwife will discuss with you which method is preferable for you and your baby.
Monitoring your baby
Before and after insertion of the balloon catheter or Prostin Gel or pessary, we will check your baby’s heartbeat with a cardiotocograph (CTG) to make sure everything is ok.
Once Oxytocin is commenced by an intravenous drip you will have your baby’s heartbeat continuously monitored while you are in labour with a CTG.
We have wireless CTG monitoring to enable you to be upright and mobile during labour if you choose to.
Please talk to your Midwife and GP Obstetrician for more information on Induction of labour.