Birth

How does a doctor induce labour?

There are a few different methods that your doctor may use to induce your labour. Sometimes ripening of the cervix, which makes it soft and easily able to dilate, is all that is required. This is usually achieved by inserting a substance into the vagina which causes softening. The procedure can be repeated after several hours if it is not initially effective. In many cases this process will be very effective and the softening of the cervix will be enough to start the labour process.

However, if this is not the case, the doctor will either break the water, strip the membranes or administer a hormone such as oxytoxin which starts the contractions. The breaking of the water is achieved using a hooked instrument. This may cause discomfort but is unlikely to be painful. Often it is not felt at all. It can be a simple way to get the contractions started. The stripping of the membranes involves pulling the membranes away from the cervix. The membranes do not usually rupture, but the procedure can be painful for some women.

The oxytoxin is generally administered by intravenous drip and can be regulated very precisely. The contractions usually start within half an hour, and are strong and regular. Thus by controlling the drip, the number of contractions can be accurately controlled in order to achieve a good effective labour which does not overwhelm the woman. For this reason a small dose is usually given initially, in order to judge the response of the uterus. The amount can then be slowly increased until the desired level of contractions is reached. The process will be constantly monitored by trained personnel. It is important that you communicate about your experience to them, so that you are able to cope with the progress of the labour and do not feel that you had no choices in the matter.

For some women the fact that they had to be induced is disappointing. The truth is that it does not matter how the labour started. What does matter is that you are treated with respect and allowed to participate in the progress of the labour, until the birth of your healthy baby. Remind yourself that this is the desired outcome and that there are times when intervention is necessary to achieve this outcome. You must treat the labour exactly as you would treat a naturally occurring labour, and use all the techniques that you have learnt in classes to cope with the labour.

See also:
Labour – When to call the doctor
Labour – Back pain during labour
Labour – Birth stages
Labour – Natural Induction
Labour – Overdue Problems
Labour – Preparation
Labour – Reasons for Inducing

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*Important : The information provided is for information purposes only. No medical diagnosis or prescription can be inferred or is implied. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.

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