How Is Labour Induced

If you have agreed to induction of labour and your waters have not broken, you will be offered membrane sweeping before other methods are used.  It involves your midwife or doctor placing a finger inside your cervix (neck of womb) and making a circular, sweeping movement to separate the cervix from membranes around baby’s head.  This procedure may cause some discomfort and slight bleeding, but will not cause any harm to your baby and it will not increase the chance of you or your baby getting an infection.  If can be carried out at home, at an outpatient appointment or in hospital.  This has been shown to increase the chances of labour starting naturally within the next 48 hours. 

Using Prostaglandins

Prostaglandins are drugs that help to induce labour by encouraging the cervix to soften and shorten (ripen).  This allows the cervix to open and contraction to start. 
Prostaglandins ar einserted into the vagina.  This is usually done in hospital, on an antenatal ward, in Antenatal Day Units or the Labour suite. 

Before giving Prostaglandins your midwife or doctor will monitor your baby’s heartbeat with an electronic fetal heart rate monitor (CTG).  Very occasionally Prostaglandins can cause the uterus to contract too much which may affect the pattern of your baby’s heartbeat.  If this happens you will be asked to lie on your left side.  You may be given other medication to help relax the uterusand any prostaglandin can be removed using the attached tape. 
If you are not in established labour after 24 hours you will be re-assessed and a further plan will be agreed with the doctor. 

If you experience regular contractions or your waters break you should ring labour Suite. 

Amniotomy (to break the waters)

If your waters have not broken, a procedure called an amniotomy may be recommended.  This is when your midwife or doctor makes a hole in your membrane to release (break) the waters.  This procedure is done through your vagina and cervix using a small instrument.  This will cause no harm to your baby, but the vaginal examination will be needed to perform this procedure which may cause you some discomfort. 

Using Syntocinon

Once your waters are broken you may be given syntocinon - synthetic oxytocin - in a drip.  This is a drug that stimulates contractions.  Once contractions have begun, the rate of the drip can be adjusted so that your contractions occur regularly until your baby is born.
Whilst being given the syntocinon the midwife or doctor will monitor your baby’s heartbeat continuously. 

Very occasionally syntocinon can cause the uterus to contract too much which may affect the pattern of your baby’s heartbeat.  If this happens you will be asked to lie on your left-side and the drip will be turned down or off to lessen the contractions.  Sometimes another drug will be given to counteract the syntocinon and lessen the contractions. 

Once your labour is established, following one or a combination of the above procedures, it may be possible to manage your labour as routine.  


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