What to know ahead of a labor induction
As birthing parents prepare to deliver their babies, birth plans are often recommended. Some of those plans may include a labor induction.
“Labor induction may be recommended when there are concerns about the health of the woman or the fetus. It also may be recommended when labor has not started on its own. Labor can also be induced electively at or after 39 weeks,” says Dr. Donna Hemphill, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Aurora Medical Center – Kenosha.
According to Dr. Hemphill, ways to induce birth include:
- Medications that contain prostaglandins that will help prepare the cervix for induction
- Mechanical cervical preparation can occur using a thin tube that has an inflatable balloon on the end. The tube is inserted into the cervix and then expanded, helping to widen the cervix.
- A medication called Pitocin can be used to start labor
Whatever method is used, there are established safety protocols to avoid the potential risk of having too many contractions.
“Too many contractions may lead to changes in the fetal heart rate. Other risks can include infection in the woman or her fetus,” says Dr. Hemphill.
There are some steps a person can take to try to get the baby in a good position or start contractions naturally.
“Movement, such as walking or dancing, is not going to induce labor, but it can help progress labor and get baby in a good position for birth,” Dr. Hemphill says. “Sexual intercourse, or even just making out can help stimulate the body’s natural love hormone, oxytocin, and that’s what causes contractions.”
Once a person has started dilating, a doctor might be able to perform a membrane sweep, Dr. Hemphill says.
“He or she uses a finger to separate the amniotic sac that surrounds the baby from the area around your cervix. This may trigger the release of prostaglandins, which can soften the cervix and prepare the uterus to contract,” she says.
About the Author
Brittany Lewis is a media relations coordinator at Advocate Aurora Health. She previously worked as a reporter at TV stations around the Midwest, including Milwaukee. She studied at DePaul University where she majored in Journalism and Public Relations. Brittany enjoys traveling, hanging out by Lake Michigan, trying new restaurants and spending time with friends and family.