The stages of induction
Being induced means starting labour artificially. There are a number of methods used to induce birth and some may be repeated more than once. In some cases being induced can lead to a quick labour but in others, the process can be long and drawn-out. Around 20% of women are induced, so it’s worth understanding the process. Our midwife explains all:
1. The first stage of induction is kick-starting those contractions and getting the cervix to open.
2. A vaginal examination will confirm whether or not the cervix has started to dilate before the induction even begins.
3. If the cervix has opened the first stage of the induction is avoided. If not, prostaglandin hormone is put into the vagina, either as a tablet, gel, or pessary, which slowly releases the hormone over the next 24 hours.
4. In some areas, women can go home if they have the slow-release pessary. They return as soon as the contractions start. The dose of hormone aims to start to work by creating contractions, and thinning and dilating the cervix.
5. If the cervix has started to open but the contractions are still not strong and regular, the next stage is having your waters broken (the artificial rupture of membranes). For women who don’t need the vaginal hormone, or particularly women who have had children before (the cervix sometimes remains open a little), they can begin with this stage.
6. The midwife uses a plastic hook, a bit like a crochet needle, which she gently slides into your vagina and carefully through your cervix, to pop the waters around your baby, at which point you’ll feel a gush of warm fluid.
7. If this doesn’t work, you’ll be advised to have a continual drip of a hormone called syntocinon which goes into a vein in your hand. This should gradually increase the strength and length of contractions until your cervix is fully dilated.
8. Syntocinon is a strong drug and your baby will need close monitoring of his heartbeat to make sure that he remains happy throughout labour.