If your labor is induced

Somali: Keenista foosha iyo jileec-noqoshada afka Ilmo-galeenka

"Inducing" labor means starting labor by stimulating the uterus to begin contractions. Under certain circumstances, for your health and the health of your baby, your health care provider may recommend inducing labor.

Good reasons to begin labor by induction or to speed up a slow labor by using induction methods may include:

  • Your amniotic sac, or bag of waters, ruptured on its own and labor has not yet begun. Your health care provider will monitor you closely and consider induction if labor doesn't begin on its own.
  • You have been in labor for some time and are tired but your contractions are not actively dilating your cervix.
  • You are ill and your baby needs to be born.
  • You have a history of very short labors. Your health care provider may wish to admit you to the hospital and induce labor to be sure you'll give birth in the safety of the hospital.

Labor is not induced for your convenience ("We'd like to have our baby before the holidays") or for the convenience of your health care provider. Generally, it is best to let your labor begin naturally (on its own). Having labor induced can limit your ability to get up and move around during labor because of the need to monitor your baby.

There are several ways to induce labor, including cervical ripening, artificial rupture of the membranes or use of the medicine Pitocin®. Your health care provider will decide which one is best for you and your baby.

Cervical ripening

Before your baby can be born, your cervix needs to soften so that it will open and let your baby pass through. This process is called "ripening." Cervical ripening may shorten the time it takes to induce your labor, or may actually cause labor to begin. It may be done by:

  • using medicines that are placed in your vagina
  • using other procedures, such as a balloon-tipped catheter that is placed just inside your cervix and inflated with water.

During cervical ripening, you must lie in bed for a time while your baby is monitored. Depending on which medicine is used and/or on how your cervix responds, you may or may not be sent home.

Artificial rupture of the membranes

Sometimes, breaking the bag of waters, or amniotic sac, will begin or speed up labor. This is called an amniotomy.

  • The amniotic sac is broken with a plastic hook during a vaginal exam. You won't feel pain when the bag of waters is broken -- just a warm gush of fluid.
  • This may also be done to allow the use of an internal monitor or to check the color of the amniotic fluid.
  • After your water breaks, you'll be monitored for at least 20 to 30 minutes every hour. If your baby's heart rate is fine and your blood pressure is normal, you may walk or shower to try to start contractions.

If contractions do not begin within a length of time determined by your health care provider, you will be given a medicine called Pitocin® (oxytocin).

Use of the medicine Pitocin®

Pitocin® (oxytocin) is a medicine that stimulates uterine contractions. It may be used to induce labor, improve its progress, or minimize bleeding after birth. It is given through an IV infusion.

For labor induction, a nurse will increase your Pitocin® rate about every 15 to 30 minutes until you are in active labor. You will probably have to stay in or near your bed or chair because you and your baby will need to be monitored often.

Your IV will stay in during labor and is usually removed at the end of your recovery period, an hour or two after your baby's birth.

If Pitocin® is used in your labor, you may notice that contractions become intense rather quickly.

  • Prepare yourself and ask your labor companion and/or partner to give you special attention. Your partner can help you relax by holding your hand, stroking your face or hair, and gently massaging you between contractions to release tension.
  • You may need to either switch to a breathing technique that requires more concentration or focus more intensely on relaxation.
  • You may need to use additional comfort measures.
  • Pain medicine is another tool that may be especially helpful with an induced labor.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, seventh edition, ob-ah-90026
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/02/2015

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