Induction. People are all over the map on how they feel about it. Opinions are one thing.
Facts are another. Here are the facts:
- Labor induction is common. One out of four women in the United States starts her labor with induction.
- In some cases it’s safer to induce labor than wait for things to progress naturally.
- Labor induction can be necessary and doesn’t necessarily lead to a C-section.
Before we dive into the “whys” of induction, let’s talk about what it is:
Induction happens when certain medications or methods are used to kick-start your labor, with the goal being a vaginal delivery. If your doctor decides it’s time to deliver your baby and the opening of your cervix is less than 2-3 centimeters, there are things your doctor can do to help soften and thin your cervix. This process is called “cervical ripening” and there are different methods that can do the trick.
One out of four women in the United States starts her labor with induction.
Some methods involve taking a pill. Others involve placing a vaginal insert or gel directly in your vagina. Regardless of the method, all cervical ripening drugs work to deliver the same result: a soft and thin cervix that can stretch 10 whopping centimeters (yes, 10) so you can push your beautiful baby through.
An important thing to note: Not all methods are FDA-approved for cervical ripening, meaning they haven’t been proven safe and effective to FDA standards and have not been determined to have benefits that outweigh any risks. Week 37 is a great time to discuss all of your options with your OB.
Learn more about cervical ripening agent options below:
- Dinoprostone Vaginal Insert
- An FDA-approved medicated removable vaginal insert similar to a tampon that is placed by your OB or midwife.
- Dinoprostone Gel
- Another form of the FDA-approved medication dinoprostone. It is administered by a doctor, who will release the gel into the cervix using a syringe.
- Pill (Cytotec®/misoprostol)
- A medication given orally or vaginally. This option is not FDA-approved for use in cervical ripening.
- Balloon Catheter
- A device with a small inflatable balloon on one end. Some balloon catheters are FDA-approved.
- Stripping the Membranes
- A procedure performed by your OB or midwife that involves gently separating the membrane connecting the amniotic sac to the wall of the uterus. This triggers the release of prostaglandins and produces contractions.
Note: All drugs must be proven safe and effective to FDA’s regulations before companies can market them. If the FDA grants approval to a drug, it means they have determined that the benefits of the product outweigh the risks for the intended use. It’s good info to know as you explore your options.
Now, on to the “whys” of induction. Some women don’t have a choice. It simply must happen. Here are some reasons:
Medical Reasons for Induction
- Your baby has stopped growing and developing.
- You’re two weeks past your due date, increasing the risk of complications.
- You’ve previously had a stillbirth.
- Your water breaks but labor doesn’t start, putting your baby at risk of an infection.
- You have a condition, like preeclampsia or high blood pressure, that places you or your baby in danger.
Nonmedical Reasons for Induction
- You live really far away from the hospital.
- You have a history of really fast labors and want to be sure you’re in the hospital when it all goes down.
- Your doctor has a scheduling conflict on your due date.
Whatever your reason for needing to induce labor, the end result remains the same: giving birth to your beautiful baby. No matter where you stand on the topic of induction, everyone can agree there’s no better outcome than that.