Inducing Labor

Inducing labor is a term given to the procedure that starts the labor process by the means of medication or methods other than allowing the body to start the process naturally. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, also know as ACOG, recommends that labor should occur naturally unless there is a great risk for the baby to remain inside.

Reasons to Induce Labor:

There is a greater chance for labor to be induced:

  • Presence of complications including gestational diabetes, bleeding, hypertension, or preeclampsia
  • A problem with the umbilical cord reducing or preventing the necessary oxygen or nutrients from reaching the baby.
  • Your amniotic sac has ruptured but labor hasn’t started within 24-48 hours.
  • Pregnancy gestation that has exceeded beyond 42 weeks.
  • The presence of an infection inside the uterus known as chorioamnionitis.

How is labor induced?

Labor can be induced by the following methods:

1. Medications: Your health care provider may use prostaglandin which is a suppository used in the vagina to start labor. Another option includes Pitocin and Syntocinon which are manufactured forms of oxytocin which is a hormone that brings on contractions. The primary benefit of oxytocin is an increase the labor process. However a caution related to oxytocin is an escalated labor pace that creates challenges for managing pain.

2. Artificial rupture of the membranes (AROM): This is a procedure were your healthcare provider will physically rupture your amniotic sac with the hopes of stimulating the production prostaglandin. Prostaglandin helps increase the speed of contractions. AROM may lessen your time in labor and the procedure also gives your healthcare provider a chance to evaluate the amniotic fluid for sings of distress. One concern when using AROM is when the baby changes positions after the membranes are ruptured and becomes breech. Other concerns include infection and the umbilical cord coming out first.

3. Natural: There are natural ways that you can try and induce labor and one of the most common is nipple stimulation. When the nipples are stimulated there is a release of the hormone oxytocin which as noted earlier helps the onset of contractions.

Birth plans for induced labor:

  • Plan on using your relaxation techniques you learned in your childbirth education classes.
  • Pain medications are still an option
Last Updated: 09/2008

Compiled using information from the following sources:

Mayo Clinic Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy. Harms, Roger W., M.D., et al, Part 4.

Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth Third Ed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Ch. 8.

Lamaze International,

American Pregnancy Association,

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