What Happens During A Scheduled Labour Induction?

In most cases, your care team will monitor your pregnancy right up until after the forty week mark to see if labour progresses naturally.

In most cases, your care team will monitor your pregnancy right up until after the forty week mark to see if labour progresses naturally. However, in most maternity hospitals an induction plan will be made if by a certain date you are not showing signs of labour. In some hospitals, this is about one week to ten days after your due date.

Labour induction is essentially a process whereby your doctor or midwife team will make a plan to gently nudge nature along so that you can meet your baby. There are a number of different reasons why labour might be induced but, in the majority of cases, it will not be encouraged until your baby is full term or you are thirty-eight weeks pregnant.

The reason for induction may simply be the fact that your body is not showing any signs of preparing for labour and as your pregnant body and baby develops significantly passed your due date there may be birthing or health complications for the mother and baby. Making a plan to induce labour is a way to schedule the beginning of labour in some way.

In some cases, labour induction is planned at an earlier stage in pregnancy if the health of the unborn baby or mother is at risk. There may be a risk of infection or a condition such as pre-eclampsia or diabetes may be present and require treatment that is not safe when the baby is in the uterus. In other cases, the placenta may present issues and the baby may not be getting the oxygen and nutrition it requires.

In many cases, a woman’s waters will naturally rupture and the expectation is that she will begin to experience contractions and signs of labour early after. This does not always happen though. If the waters have gone and a certain amount of hours have passed (twenty four-forty eight hours usually depending on your care team) labour induction may be suggested for a number of reasons. If the baby has no amniotic fluid it can cause complications and there is also a risk of infection once they have come away.

Some women choose to be induced at a certain date for emotional or logistic reasons. They may be experiencing anxiety and the lack of certainty is making it worse. They may also have other children to look after and making childcare arrangements for when labour happens is extremely difficult when the date is unknown. In other cases, a mother may live a great distance away from the maternity hospital and may have a history of short labours. In this case, a scheduled induction may be the safer option.

There are a number of ways that your labour may be induced. You may be offered a “sweeping of the membranes” (known more colloquially as a “sweep”). This is an internal exam where the doctor will use his fingers to move some of the cervical membranes away. This can cause the cervix to ripen and prepare for labour. In other cases, you may simply need a topical hormone added to encourage labour to begin. In this case, you will be monitored every couple of hours in the hopes that the cervix responds accordingly.

If your cervix is already showing signs of preparing for labour but things are moving really slowly your practitioner may suggest breaking your waters. This is done using a sharp instrument but should be uncomfortable rather than painful.

If these methods do not work out your doctor may suggest a hormone drip. This involves being hooked up to an IV drip and being administered a synthetic form of the naturally occurring Oxytocin hormone to encourage contractions to start. Contractions will usually begin quite quickly and they will be stronger and more frequent and regular than the contractions experienced when you naturally go into labour.

Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.

Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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