What if I have to be induced?

Inducing labour

Whilst you'll most likely begin labour naturally between 37 and 41 weeks, it's worth finding out about inducing labour just in case your baby is overdue, or if induction is recommended for another reason. If you know all the options, you'll feel more relaxed about what's going on should you need to be induced. Don't worry, once the induction begins, labour will usually progress quickly. If you still have any questions after reading through this info, speak to your midwife or give our team a call.

Reasons for inducing labour

There are a number of common reasons for being induced:

  • Your waters may have broken but your contractions might not have started
  • There may be complications with your pregnancy and your baby needs to be born sooner rather than later
  • You may simply be long past your due date

What happens when you are induced?

Doctors and midwives can induce childbirth in many ways. They will support you through the process and keep talking to you so it's important you let them know how you're feeling. Your breathing exercises will help you too. Remember that once they've induced labour, things might progress pretty quickly so be prepared! On the other hand, it can sometimes take a couple of days to get moving: so don't panic if nothing happens immediately.

The list below will tell you more about the various ways of inducing labour:

Membrane sweep - also known as a 'stretch and sweep', this is much like an internal examination. Your midwife will sweep your cervix with their finger and the aim is to separate the cervix from the sac/membranes to help the release of your prostaglandin hormones. If successful, labour will usually start within 24-48 hours. This doesn't always work the first time, so don't worry if it's not successful. In most cases, an additional membrane sweep will be offered at a later date, allowing enough time for your cervix to soften.

Breaking your waters - If your cervix has started to dilate, your waters are usually broken using a long thin instrument. This is to encourage contractions but is not 100% guaranteed.

Prostaglandin- A hormone that stimulates labour, prostaglandin can be used as a gel or pessary placed at the neck of your womb.

Syntocinon - Given through a drip, syntocinon can kick-start some quite intense contractions so you may want to consider an epidural. It's often done in conjunction with breaking your waters.

If you'd like further advice on inducing labour, why not give our Careline experts a call on 0800 977 8880 or ask us a question online, instantly, using Live Chat Monday to Friday, 8am- 8pm.

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