How to Induce Labor

The labor is the process of delivering the baby and consists of three stages. Out of which, the second stage would be the phase in which the mother actively pushes the baby through the birth canal and the first stage would be the longest which may last for several hours. Even though the usual process of labor begins in the 37-40 weeks of gestation, in certain instances some mothers can progress further passed the 40 week mark and this can sometimes compromise the fetal well being. Thus, induction of labor or actively initiating the process of labor would be incorporated by the obstetricians in order to deliver the baby.

Apart from post dates, there are other instances which necessitate the doctors to induce labor. Poor progression in the first stage of labor, maternal medical conditions such as pregnancy induced hypertension, unfavourable cervix in a full term mother as well as emergency situations such as ‘placental abruption’ that can adversely affect both the mother as well as the fetus are some of the other indications.

It should also be remembered that some conditions are contraindicated for the purpose of induction and these include placenta previa, risk of cord prolapse, transverse lie of the baby and prior surgeries carried out in relation to the uterus.

When considering the techniques, there are several means of achieving artificial labor induction and following are a brief description of such methods.

1. Ripening of the cervix

The thinning of the cervix is a mandatory event at the time of labor and unfavourable cervix is one factor which affects the initiation process of labor at term. Thus, it is possible to induce the favourability in other words ripen the cervix in order to activate the process of labor. Prostaglandin vaginal tablets are widely used in achieving induction and are usually inserted in the hospital setting due to its effects on the fetus.

2. Use of oxytocin

Oxytocin is the hormone which initiate and supports the process of contractions in the uterus and its function can be mimicked by artificially made oxytocin. The drug is administered through a saline drip and the dosage is carefully controlled while charting the parameters related to the progression of labor as well as fetal well being.

3. Artificial rupture of the membrane

By rupturing the bulging membrane of the amniotic sac, it is possible to remove the water and allow the fetal head to press against the birth canal which will fast track the ripening as well as the progression of labor. The technique is usually incorporated alongside the contractions and will be supported by oxytocin infusion. The rupture can be done through a forcep inserted through the vagina into the uterus via the partly opened cervical os.

4. Stimulating the membranes

Also called ‘stripping of the membrane’, the technique will be performed by a experienced doctor who will separate the amniotic sac membrane and the uterine wall using a sweeping movement of the fingers and thus stimulating the process of labor probably by inducing chemical releases pertaining to the event.