Labor induction may be recommended by your OB/GYN provider for a whole host of reasons. You doctor or midwife may suggestion induction of labor if you are nearing your 42nd week of pregnancy, have diabetes or high blood pressure. Many providers are recommending induction now a days as a way to reduce your chance of a cesarean birth.
So what can you expect when your OB says it’s time to induce labor? First there are several ways to induce labor medically and most of the time the decision on how to progress with your specific induction starts with what your cervical exam is. Check our our podcast on cervical exams and what they mean. We’ve linked it here www.truebirthpodcast.com/episode67. If your cervical exam is favorable often your doctor will recommend a morning induction and start with breaking the water ie artificial rupture of membranes (AROM) or IV Pitocin augmentation. If your cervix is not favorable, the midwife or OB/GYN may recommend coming in the night before for cervidil, cytotec or a balloon insertion. Cervidil and cytotec are prostaglandins which are inserted in pill or tablet form and help ripen the cervix overnight. A balloon catheter is a soft silicone tube with a balloon near the tip that is inserted into the cervix and used to mechanically ripen the cervix.
The benefits of the balloon, AROM and pitocin is that they can be used in VBAC deliveries. Cervidil and cytotec are used most often in patients having their first vaginal delivery but can be used in other circumstances.
Cervidil and cytotec are used in similar ways. Both are inserted (most commonly the night before) a planned induction day into the vagina near the cervix. This insertion is done in the hospital under the observation of a labor and delivery nurse very often with external fetal monitoring. At times, an IV site is started with or without fluids running. These medications can be used in combination with a balloon catheter.
Pitocin and breaking the water (AROM) are also often done in combination usually one or two hours or two before the other. Many physicians and midwives will start an induction with breaking the water and then waiting to see if pitocin augmentation is actually needed, or vise versa.
Induction of labor can take anywhere from several hours to over 24 hours with an average time of 12-18.
For more info, check out our podcast about Labor Induction and what to expect. https://www.truebirthpodcast.com/