Inducing labor involves different methods to stimulate contractions
Labor induction, also known as inducing labor, is a procedure that physicians use to either help labor begin or to help it progress. Inducing labor can be achieved with medications or various other methods. In most cases, the woman has a vaginal birth after labor induction.
When do we recommend inducing labor?
There are several medical situations that may prompt our Grapevine and Alliance obgyns to recommend labor induction.
- You have been pregnant for 42 weeks or more.
- Your amniotic sac, or “water,” breaks, but you still aren’t having contractions.
- You have experienced partial or complete placental abruption, in which the placenta has separated from the uterus.
- Your uterus is infected.
- Your baby’s growth rate is not progressing as expected.
- You have a medical issue such as diabetes, high blood pressure or Rh disease that puts you or your baby at risk.
Sometimes, labor induction is scheduled in advance. This is not common, but may occur if a woman lives some distance from a medical facility and/or has a history of delivering quickly. In most cases, elective labor induction is not recommended.
What to expect when we begin inducing labor
Our obgyns perform four methods for labor induction.
- Prescribing medications. Pitocin is a synthetic version of oxytocin, the hormone that causes your uterus to contract. You may receive this medication intravenously in the hospital to help labor progress.
- Breaking the amniotic sac. Also known as breaking your water, this simple procedure involves your physician using a small instrument to create an opening in the amniotic sac.
- Ripening the cervix. This labor induction method involves using either prostaglandin medication or small dilating sticks (laminaria) to dilate the cervix. Prostaglandin medication is a chemical form of a substance that your body naturally produces to help contractions begin and soften the cervix.
- Stripping the membranes. During this procedure, your physician uses her gloved finger to separate the thin membranes connecting the walls of the uterus to the amniotic sac. This may be done in the office because it won’t induce labor immediately, but it may hasten the start of natural labor.
Labor induction risks
Labor induction is almost always performed for medical reasons because there are certain risks associated with the procedure. For example, if medications cause the uterus to become overstimulated, it may cause contractions to occur too frequently. It also may increase the risk of infection and the occurrence of C section. In some cases, the umbilical cord falls into the vagina before your delivery, and rarely, the uterus may rupture.
If you are looking for an experienced team of Southlake obgyns, consider driving to the neighboring town of Grapevine or the Alliance area. To learn more about our physicians or to schedule prenatal care, contact us.