Different Types of Labour Inductions

newborn baby crying in mum's arms

Labour induction is a medical procedure that involves initiating childbirth when the natural process is delayed or poses a risk to the mother or baby.

It’s a practical intervention used to ensure the physical and mental well-being of mum and baby in specific circumstances.

Here we will look at the how, what, when and why when it comes to labour inductions… Because it's something that shouldn't be feared. You're one step closer to meeting your baby!

Why May You Need Labour Induction?

Labour induction may be necessary for a variety of different circumstances. Medical conditions such as preeclampsia or placental abnormalities can warrant induction.

If the pregnancy is high risk or there are concerns about baby’s growth, induction may also be recommended. Additionally, if the pregnancy exceeds 40+ weeks, you may be offered induction to hurry things along and potentially decrease the risk of complications.

When You May Need To Be Induced

The timing of labour induction can depend on several factors. Gestational age plays a significant role in determining whether induction is necessary.

In some cases, however, such as foetal distress, preeclampsia or membrane rupture, gestational age may not play a part. If your pregnancy progresses past 40 weeks, your healthcare provider will most likely discuss potential induction.

At this stage, and assuming all is well with the pregnancy, you can choose whether to proceed with induction or wait to see if nature takes its cause.

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Different Types of Labour Induction

1. Prostaglandin

Prostaglandin is a hormone used to ripen the cervix and encourage labour. It’s either a gel or pessary, which is administered vaginally.

A pessary is generally used with the cervix and is found to be less favourable. A gel is administered if more favourable.

Although some women may go into labour after this induction, it's likely that further action may need to be taken. You may be offered this process again or the following three induction types.

2. Balloon Catheter

There are two types of balloon catheters that can be used to induce labour. A Cooks balloon catheter is a soft silicone tube with inflatable ends. This is inserted into the cervix and filled with a saline solution causing inflation and pressure to the cervix.

The Foley balloon catheter is more commonly used to drain urine; however, is inserted through the neck of the womb and filled with fluid, again to supply pressure and encourage labour progression.

This particular method of induction carries very little side effects. On some occasions, you may even be invited to go home and wait for labour to progress somewhere you're more comfortable. It's also a welcomed choice for those wanting to deter from hormone induction, and this method is purely mechanical.

3. Artificial Rupture of Membranes (ARM)

Artificial rupture of membranes involves manually breaking the amniotic sac during labour. This procedure is performed by a healthcare provider during an internal examination using a special hook-like instrument called an amnihook.

The aim is by breaking the waters, it'll stimulate contractions and expedite labour progression.

This method of labour induction can only be used once the cervix has started to dilate. It's generally used on women who've had the balloon catheter, prostaglandin hormone or those that have had children previously.

4. Oxytocin Drip

Oxytocin, often referred to as Pitocin, is a synthetic form of the hormone produced naturally during labour. When used for induction, it's administered through an intravenous drip to stimulate and strengthen uterine contractions.

The rate of the drip is increased until contractions become strong and regular. Opting for the drip limits your movement. You won't be able to walk around, but standing up and sitting on a birthing ball should be fine. Your waters need to be broken to have this form of induction.

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What if Induction Doesn’t Work?

If induction doesn't work, your healthcare provider will discuss your options. This will, of course, come from careful monitoring of mother and baby.

Depending on your wishes and circumstances, if one method of induction doesn't work, you'll likely be offered another from the list. If this still fails to get you into labour, a caesarean section may be offered.

According to the NHS, inductions are becoming more and more frequent. But like I say, it shouldn't be something that's feared. All measures are put in place to help us deliver our babies. If you're worried about induction or need more information, please get in touch with your midwife or healthcare provider.

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