How to Induce Labor?

Inducing labor is also well known as labor induction. It is when your doctor uses other procedures or gives you medicines to begin your labor or contractions. The doctor will only recommend the labor induction if you have certain medical concern that may harm you or the baby inside.

If you are in a healthy condition during your pregnancy, it is better to let the labor start on its own. If in case your doctor recommends induction labor, try to negotiate if you can at least wait until you reach your 39th week to be induced.


Image source : Flickr by george ruiz shared under CC BY 2.0

Doing so will help the baby enough time to develop his or her brain and lungs more fully. But once you begin with labor and contractions and suddenly stop its progression, your doctor may still induce you to augment and speed up your labor.

Your doctor may opt to use one or more induce labor methods such as follows:

  • Ripening the cervix. Your doctor will give you medicine that comes as a pill or a gel that you will take by mouth or a suppository which the doctor will place in your vagina to your cervix. It will help to soften and thin the cervix.
  • Stripping the membranes. It is the separating the amniotic sac from the wall of your uterus. The amniotic sac is the safe place like a bag inside your uterus which holds the baby. It is full of amniotic fluid. Your doctor will gently insert a gloved finger through your opening and will separate the sac from your uterus. While the doctor is doing this procedure, you will feel a bit cramping or you may have some spotting. This can procedure can be done in the hospital or in the doctor’s clinic.
  • Medicines to initiate contractions. The doctors usually use a drug called Pitocin to induce labor. It is a man-made kind of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone which your body makes to start contractions. Pitocin is being given thru IV or a needle into the vein. It will help you have very strong contractions. Make sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations of what kind of food you should eat before you go to the hospital because this kind of medicine can result to an upset stomach.
  • Rupturing the membranes. Your doctor will use a small hook like a knitting needle to break you amniotic sac which holds your baby. This is not a painful process but you will feel a bit warm flow of water.

Who are those to be induced?

Pregnancy week by week

Your health care provider will suggest induction when:

  1. You are still not having any contractions when you are more than one or two weeks past your expecting date of delivery. The doctor would not want to wait longer than two weeks because it will put you and your baby to a great danger of having several complications. One example of the probable effect of being overdue is the risk of stillbirth.
  2. Your water bag already breaks but your labor or contractions do not begin on its own. The baby cannot stay long inside your uterus without water or amniotic fluid because he or she will be in danger of having infection.
  3. You develop preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a serious condition of pregnancy. it is defined by the doctors as high blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine. It restricts the flow of the blood to your baby. If not treated, preeclampsia may escalate into eclampsia which will cause seizures and can take the life of both the mother and the baby or one of them.
  4. Your test results show that your placenta is not functioning properly. Such as the amniotic fluid is too little or the baby is not growing as he or she should.
  5. You have a history of stillbirth.
  6. You have a health problem such as diabetes, infections in the uterus, or Rh disease.

The risks of inducing labor

  • Premature birth. Labor induction too early can end in a premature birth, which may lead to other risks such as difficulty in breathing.
  • Some labor induction methods, such as sweeping or stripping the membranes. Breaking the water bag, placing a catheter or the seaweed rods into the uterine cervix may enlarge the risk of infections to both mother and baby.
  • The demand for a C-section. Inducing labor may result in the need for a cesarean section if your cervix failed to soften, thin, and dilate. This risk is higher if it is your first time to give birth.
  • Low heart rate. The kind of drugs used to labor induction such as prostaglandin or oxytocin have the possibility to result in too much or too many contractions, which will lower the oxygen supply for the baby and will lower the rate of the baby’s heartbeat.
  • Bleeding after the delivery. Inducing labor increases the hazard that the uterine muscles will not contract properly which may result a serious bleeding after giving birth.
  • Uterine rapture. This is very rare but it is a serious complication where the baby comes out the wall of your uterus into the abdominal basin. It usually happens to those women whose uterus is scarred. This kind of event will require an emergency cesarean section to prevent deadly complications.
  • Umbilical cord issues. Labor induction may result the umbilical cord going out into the opening of the vagina prior to delivery, it is also called umbilical cord prolapse. It may compress the umbilical cord and reduce the oxygen supply for the baby.

What is elective induction?

Elective induction is when you choose to be induced without a medical concern reasons. For example, you want to deliver the baby early because you feel you are so big and heavy and you are already tired of being pregnant. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists do not recommend labor induction without having a medical reason before the 39th week of pregnancy. If you decide to have labor induction earlier than 39 week, you are risking your baby to come out and be on his or her own before she is fully developed in all manner.  Labor induction is a medical procedure that should be used for medical purposes only.  Unless, the patient is residing to a rural communities and it will take them very long before they reach the hospital if they will wait for natural labor to happen. Many doctors would want them to be induced instead than have them deliver their baby on the highway especially if the mother already have a history of a rapid delivery.

Are there any circumstances that you should not be induced?

You need to choose to have a cesarean section instead of being induced whenever it is not safe for you to deliver the baby thru labor or vaginal delivery. The following medical instances are to be observed:

  1. If the test shows a result that the baby cannot tolerate contractions or once the baby needs to be out as soon as possible.
  2. If the baby is in a transverse position or breech, means the baby would come out headfirst position.
  3. If you previously gave birth with cesarean section or if you had any uterine incision like myomectomy.
  4. If you have a genital herpes infection, especially if it is active.
  5. If your placenta is positioned unusually low in the urine, it is either next to the cervix or covering it. This kind of health issue is called placenta previa.
  6. If you are having twins or multiples.

Natural ways of labor induction

  • Acupuncture. In some parts of Asia, acupuncture has been used for over a centuries to induce labor. The University of North Carolina conducted a study about the relationship of acupuncture and labor. They discover that women who had acupuncture went into labor without having the need of any medical push. The study they conducted comprised of 56 women who are between 39.5 to 41 weeks in their pregnancy. Have of the group had three sessions of acupuncture while the other half did not. The result is very significant that 70% of the group who got acupuncture were able to go into labor on their own. Compared to other half of the group who just receive a standard care only 17% of them were able to labor on their own.
  • Sex. Many doctors are recommending having sex to help labor get started since the semen is greatly concentrated with prostaglandins, a type of hormone that causes the muscles in the uterine to contract. To make sure that you will have your best shot is to make sure that your partner will ejaculates inside the vagina.
  • Eating spicy foods. This is a very popular theory about getting a woman into labor. This is a theory that very few doctor supports. They would usually say that there is no direct connection between the uterus and the stomach. And that they do not know anything that can support this theory in one way or another.
  • Evening primrose. Many doctors are very positive about this herb. It contains substances that the body converts prostaglandins that will soften the cervix and will help you get ready for labor.
  • Castor oil. Many doctors recommend taking a small quantity of castor oil after their 38th Though it does not have a direct effect on the uterus, it does stimulate bowels, which tilt on the uterus. According to some doctors, this seems to be effective once the mother is so ready to go into labor. If you are trying this, consult your doctor first and ask for advice as to how much you would take and how often. Note that castor oil can result on diarrhea and it will not be good if you get dehydrated.
  • Nipple stimulation. Stimulating the nipples can trigger your uterus to contract which can lead you to labor. One important thing that you should know about nipple stimulation is when you breastfeed your baby right after the delivery, can also stimulate your uterus to shrink back the way it was before you got pregnant. Ask for the help of your partner to manually roll both of your nipples for stimulation. Others use breast pump to do the job.

Hope these things will help you prepare and decide on how you should go into labor. Best luck to you all mothers-to-be.