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Thread: Induction of Labor - How and Why Labor is Induced

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    Arrow Induction of Labor - How and Why Labor is Induced

    Induction of Labor - How and Why Labor is Induced

    Clinical News & Knowledge:

    Why is labor induced?:

    Labor can be induced for many reasons. Labor should only be induced for valid medical reasons because of the risks involved with induction of labor. Some of these reasons include:

    •maternal illness (high blood pressure, diabetes, uterine infection, etc.)

    •fetal illness

    •42 completed weeks of gestation

    What is a social induction of labor?:

    A social induction is also known as an induction for convenience of either the doctor, the midwife or the family. It may be done to get the practitioner that you want, to aid in family scheduling or to try to pick a certain birth date. This is highly discouraged due to the added risks of induction of labor.

    What are the risks of inducing labor?:

    The risks of inducing labor are numerous. They include:

    •Increased risk of premature baby, even if you believe your baby is term

    •Placental Abruption

    •Fetal Distress

    •Uterine Rupture

    •Increased risk of cesarean section

    •Increased use of interventions including pain relief, continuous fetal monitoring and other interventions When induction is needed for medical reasons, the benefits of induction outweigh the risks.

    How do they induce labor?

    Labor can be induced a number of ways. Some of the more common methods include:

    •Breaking the Bag of Water (Amniotomy)

    •Pitocin (Synthetic hormone to start contractions)


    •Foley Catheter

    •Stripping the Membranes

    Natural Methods of Labor Induction:

    Many women are turning towards natural methods of labor induction with some success.

    The most common home induction tricks can include:

    •Nipple Stimulation

    •Castor Oil

    •Sex as Induction Method

    •Stripping the Membranes

    •Relaxation & Visual Imagery

    •Natural Labor Induction

    Augmentation of Labor:

    Sometimes labor stalls or is delayed. If the health of the mother or baby need labor to continue more quickly, your practitioner may prescribe an augmentation of your labor. There are multiple methods of augmentation, including the use of Pitocin, amniotomy and other natural techniques.

    Ways to Induce Labor: Medically

    Breaking the Bag of Water

    Using a crochet hook looking item called an amnihook, your practitioner will make a tiny tear in the bag of water. This will cause the water to begin leaking out. Since the bag does not have nerves, this should be no more painful than your average vaginal exam. The thought is that once the bag is ruptured contractions will usually begin.

    Benefits: No chemicals may be needed, you maintain more mobility than if you were required to have an IV.

    Disadvantages: Contractions may not start and then this leads you to other interventions such as the use of Pitocin, it may create an infection of the sac, the cushion for the baby is now removed, and even rarely, but possibly the prolapse of a cord, necessitating an immediate cesarean. It also requires that you have a baby, sometimes within a certain amount of time, depending upon the circumstances and your practitioners beliefs.


    This is an artificial version of the body's hormone oxytocin. It is given by way of an IV lineand is used to cause contractions. The amount of Pitocin used will depend on how your body accepts it. Generally, the amount is increased every 15-30 minutes until a good contraction pattern is achieved. Sometimes this is done in combination with breaking the bag of water.

    Benefits: A bit easier to control than say breaking the water, because the drug can be stopped by closing off the IV line. This does not commit you to having the baby. It can be turned off or stopped to allow mom to rest or even go home.

    Disadvantages: Can cause fetal distress. May not cause contractions. May cause too many contractions or contractions that last too long. Because of the potential risks, the FDA came out and declared that this drug was not to be used for inductions for convenience or scheduling reasons.

    Prostaglandin Gels/Suppositories

    These are used more frequently when the cervix is not favorable, meaning that it is dilated less than 3 centimeters, hard, posterior, not effaced, or barely effaced, or any combination of the above. By using Bishop's Score your practitioner will decide if this is the best place to start. This can be used alone, or more frequently will be done 12 or more hours prior to the use of Pitocin. Frequently it will be given more than once over the course of an evening/night. A suppository or tampon like substance will be placed in or near your cervix during a vaginal exam.

    Benefits: The more favorable your cervix, the less likely the induction is to "fail." Sometimes this is all that is needed, other times Pitocin is also used. Can be done as an out patient procedure. Does not commit you to having the baby.

    Disadvantages:Takes longer to get into active labor, can be nerve bending if your institution's policy is that you have to stay at the hospital during the waiting period. Sometimes mom becomes nauseated or has headaches. This cannot be quite as controlled as Pitocin, but tends to be milder. Some forms of the prostaglandins now have strings attached making them removable if dangerous contractions occur.

    Misoprostal (Cytotek)

    This is a pill that can either be ingested orally or placed near the cervix. It is used more often when the cervix is not very favorable.

    Benefits: No tethering of the IV line. Can be used alone. The more favorable your cervix, the less likely the induction is to "fail." Not as messy as the suppositories potentially can be. Does not commit you to having the baby.

    Disadvantages: May require the use of Pitocin or other means in addition. Can cause a very rapid labor. Recent thought is that this is not a valid option for mothers who are attempting VBAC, discuss this with your practitioner.

    Ways to Induce Labor: Non-Medically

    Home Induction

    There are any number of ways to induce labor. They vary from nipple stimulation and intercourse, to ingesting herbs and substances like castor oil. Any method you are interested in should be discussed with your practitioner, prior to attempting to use self-induction techniques.

    Benefits: Typically less intervention and less likely to lead to a cesarean. Generally if your body and baby are not ready these will not work, but varies by method. Easier to do and less worrisome for most moms.

    Disadvantages: There can be serious consequences, particularly if you are not at term and your baby is not ready to be born. Many of the old wives tales, like castor oil, do not generally work and can have potential complications including things like meconium staining, fetal distress, etc. Always check with your practitioner before using any of these methods.

    Types of Home Inductions

    Many women will swear by one or all of these, however, not all women will go in to labor with any method of induction.


    •Sexual intercourse

    •Orgasm with or without a partner

    •Nipple stimulation

    •Certain foods (i.e. spicy foods, oily salads)

    •Bumpy car rides

    •Strenuous activity


    •Castor Oil

    •Certain herbs and homeopathics (Black and Blue Cohosh, Caulophyllum, etc.)

    Some Thoughts on Induction

    Many times inductions are done for the reason of being past your due date. There has been some research recently that shows that due dates actually need to be longer than 40 weeks. Often these are unnecessary inductions.

    Sometimes they are done because a woman is attempting a VBAC or has suspected large baby. Many studies have shown that these are not necessarily good reasons for induction, particularly if the cervix is not ripe.

    Many people are surprised to find that there are many different types of induction and that not one will work for every pregnancy.

    Some women are fearful of induction for a variety of reasons, including increased chances of a c-section, increased need for pain medications, or the fear of the reason for induction, particularly if there is a question about the baby's health.

    Will an induction be more painful than natural labor? Not necessarily, that really depends more on your reasons for induction, the type of induction and whether or not your mobility is limited. Many women are able to be induced and still follow through with their plans for an unmedicated birth, though they can expect certain changes in their birth plans.P]

    If induction is suggested, gather facts and information, and ask questions.

    Why is it being suggested?

    How would it be attempted?

    What happens if it doesn't work?

    What happens if you do nothing?

    As you can see there is not a consensus on the use of induction, though it does seem to be wide spread. It has it's time and place, as any intervention does for medical reasons, though even the experts can't agree on all of the times an induction would be for medical reasons.

    Last edited by trimurtulu; 11-14-2008 at 10:50 AM.

  2. #2
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    5 Reasons to Avoid of Induction of Labor

    The Risks of Labor Induction

    The induction of labor can be done for many reasons, including many valid medical reasons. However, the rise in the rate of social inductions, or elective inductions is on the rise. As the induction rate rises there are more babies and mothers placed at risk for certain complications. Here are five risks of induction that you may not know about:

    1. Increased risk of abnormal fetal heart rate, shoulder dystocia and other problems with the baby in labor.

    Labor induction is done by intervening in the body's natural process, typically with powerful drugs to bring on contractions or devices that are used to break the water before labor starts. Both of these types of induction can cause the baby to react in a manner that is called fetal distress as seen by fetal monitoring.

    The nature of induction like contractions may also be more forceful than natural labor. This can cause your baby to assume or stay in an unfavorable position for labor making labor longer and more painful for the mother. It can also increase the need for other interventions as well.

    2.Increased risk of your baby being admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

    Babies who are born via induction have not yet sent signals to the mother to start labor. This means that they simply aren't yet ready to be born. This risk is worth it if the baby or mother's lives are in danger, but simply to take this risk for elective reasons may not be well advised.
    When a baby is in the intensive care unit there is less ability for you to be with your baby or to hold your baby. Breastfeeding usually gets off to a rocky start as well. This can usually be avoided by giving birth when your body and baby say it is time.

    3.Increased risk of forceps or vacuum extraction used for birth.

    When labor is induced baby's tend to stay in unfavorable positions, the use of epidural anesthesia is increased and therefore the need to assist the baby's birth via the use of forceps and vacuum extraction is also increased.

    4.Increased risk of cesarean section.

    Sometimes labor inductions don't take, but it's too late to send you home, the baby must be born. The most common cause of this is that the bags of waters has been broken, either naturally or via an amniotomy. Since the risk of infection is greater, your baby will need to be born via c-section.
    A cesarean in an induced labor is also more likely for reasons of malpresentation (posterior, etc.) as well as fetal distress.

    5.Increased risks to the baby of prematurity and jaundice.

    Induction can be done before your baby is ready to be born, because your due date is off or because your baby simply needed more time in the womb to grow and mature their lungs. Your baby may also be more likely to suffer from jaundice at or near birth because of the induction. This can lead to other medical treatments as well as stays in the hospital for your baby.
    Being born even a week or two early can result in your baby being a near term or late preterm infant. This means that your baby is likely to have more trouble breathing, eating and maintaining temperature.


  3. #3
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    Nov 2008
    Washington DC
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    Thumbs up Very useful information for pregnant women

    Thanks for the helpful information. Doctors tend to have their preferences so it's nice to get a wide variety of alternatives along with the pros and cons of each. Well done. We added a small post to our site to help our readers. Moms: Inducing labor

    Feel free to submit health related articles moms can benefit from anytime!

    Thanks again,


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