Induction of Labour – Doctor Resource

Making an Informed Choice about Induction of Labour

Induction of labour is a common procedure where doctors and midwives use medications or other methods to initiate the labour process. This is typically done when there are concerns about the health of the mother or baby. Understanding the reasons, methods, and risks associated with induction can help you make an informed decision.

When is Induction Recommended?

Labour is generally induced in about 20% of pregnancies. Common reasons include:

  • Maternal health concerns such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Fetal health concerns or increased risk if the baby remains in the womb.
  • Pregnancy extending beyond 41 weeks (or 40 weeks for IVF pregnancies).
  • Waters breaking without the onset of contractions.

The primary goal is to ensure the safety and well-being of both mother and baby.

Understanding the Methods of Induction

Dr Knight typically recommends prostaglandin gel, which helps prepare the body for labour similarly to natural processes. Other induction methods include:

  • Cervical Ripening Balloon Catheter: A device inserted to help open the cervix.
  • Oxytocin (“The Drip”): A hormone administered intravenously to stimulate contractions.
  • Artificial Rupture of Membranes (ARM): Manually breaking the water sac to encourage labour.

These methods can be used individually or in combination, depending on the specific circumstances of the pregnancy.

Potential Risks and Considerations

While induction is often necessary for health reasons, it’s important to be aware of potential risks:

  • Increased likelihood of requiring a caesarean section.
  • Slightly higher average blood loss post-birth.
  • Possible side effects such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea from prostaglandin.
  • Uterine contractions may become too frequent, which can affect the baby’s heartbeat.

Despite these risks, complications from induction are generally manageable and are similar to those that can occur in natural labour.

Artificial Rupture of Membranes (ARM)

If your waters haven’t broken naturally, ARM might be recommended. This involves making a small hole in the amniotic sac to release the fluid and often helps initiate labour. While this procedure can cause discomfort and carries rare risks like cord prolapse, it is usually straightforward and effective.

Final Thoughts

Induction of labour is a well-established procedure aimed at ensuring the best possible outcomes for mother and baby. It’s important to discuss all options, potential benefits, and risks with your healthcare provider. Dr Knight and his team are dedicated to supporting you through this process, ensuring you have a healthy and happy baby. Remember, they are on your side, prioritising your safety and the well-being of your baby.