What is labour induction?

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While most labours move at their own pace, sometimes a little help is needed to get going. Inducing labour means giving it a kick start. This is usually done in hospital with the help of drips and drugs.

Augmentation (stimulation)

Augmentation (or stimulation) of contractions means that although labour began on its own, contractions are stimulated either with pills that you dissolve under your tongue, a vaginal suppository or a syntotocinon drip.

What helps to stimulate contractions

Walking around, having a warm bath or stimulating your nipples may all also remind your womb that it should be contracting to get your baby out.

Inducing labour used to be quite popular, but these days the risk of infection and viral multiplication (particularly HIV) has discouraged unnecessary medical interference.

When is induction necessary?

  • If your blood pressure is seriously high, your ankles are very swollen and there is protein in your urine. These are danger signs for toxaemia.
  • Doctors usually suggest inducing labour a week or 2 early for diabetic women who have difficulty controlling their sugar levels.
  • A rising antibody titer level for women whose blood group is Rh negative.
  • If you’re still waddling around after 42 weeks of pregnancy.
  • If your waters have broken and there are no signs of labour after 24 hours.

You will NOT be induced if:

  • You’ve had a previous c-section.
  • Your baby’s head is sitting on the top of your pelvis like an egg in an egg-cup. This usually means that your baby is a bit too big for your small pelvis.
  • The doctor is not sure where the placenta is lying.
  • You are carrying more than one baby.
  • You are carrying more amniotic fluid (waters) than you should be.
  • Your baby is lying in any other position than head down.
  • Your baby is premature or small-for-dates.
  • The baby is stressed.
  • The cervix is not soft; in other words, if labour is not imminent.

A plus point for an induction includes being mentally, physically and emotionally prepared for labour and birth. On the downside, it’s as though you skip the warming-up phase and simply go straight into powerful, intense contractions.

As long as the induction is medically necessary, there is not much you can do other than trust your doctor or midwife to help you deliver a healthy baby.

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