Why is labour induced?
Labour may be induced for a number of reasons. The most common reason is that the baby is overdue, meaning that the pregnancy is beyond 41 weeks. Another reason may be that the person carrying the baby has some illness, such as pre-eclampsia.
Consultation with a doctor
Before labour is induced, you will have a consultation with a doctor. You will be given information about the birth process, and can ask questions.
What happens when you arrive at the hospital
At the maternity ward, you will first meet a midwife.
The midwife will check how your baby is doing in the womb.
The midwife or doctor will examine you and check how your cervix feels. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that extends down into the vagina. It must soften and start to open before labour can be induced.
Then labour is induced.
Different methods for inducing labour
There are a number of methods that can be used to induce labour.
For example, you may be given medicine. Another method is for a midwife to puncture the amniotic sac, causing the amniotic fluid to run out. Some people call this "breaking your waters".
The different methods can cause your contractions to start. The cervix must soften and open up. The baby may then come down into the pelvis.
How long does it take?
The time it takes to induce labour varies. In some cases, it may take two to three days before the actual birth starts. During this time, most people have to stay in hospital.
Once labour has started, the baby is usually born within 24 hours. The birth process follows the same phases as if it had started on its own.
The birth process will not necessarily be more complicated because labour was induced. But it often takes longer.
The need for vacuum extraction or caesarean section is more common
It is more common for delivery to turn into an assisted birth by means of vacuum extraction, which involves applying a soft or rigid cup with a handle and a vacuum pump to the baby's head. A doctor will then use this to carefully guide the baby out.
The need to deliver by caesarean section (C-section) is also more common. This is usually because the contractions are not strong enough.
If you need to talk to someone
You may have concerns and questions both before and after childbirth.
Talk to a midwife for help.