Methods to Induce Labor: What You Should Know

When trying to imagine how your birth experience will be, many concerns and questions may arise. Will it be a caesarean section, a normal delivery or an induced delivery? In this article we'll look at the different methods to induce labor.
Methods to Induce Labor: What You Should Know

Last update: 05 November, 2019

There are several methods to induce labor. Depending on the circumstances, and health of both mother and baby, the specialists will choose what they consider to be the best option. They’ll always explain what’s entailed and its advantages and disadvantages, among other things.

The method used to induce labor is usually determined by the condition of the cervix. To do this, experts use Bishop’s test, which consists of touching the cervix in order to know if it’s in a good enough condition for childbirth.

What does inducing labor mean and when is it required?

When we talk about “inducing labor,” it means that the birth process hasn’t started on its own and that it’s necessary to provoke it. Inducing can also be useful for increasing or accelerating contractions if they’ve stopped. Experts recommend inducing when there’s more risk in prolonging pregnancy than in giving birth.

In addition, doctors will need to induce when the placenta isn’t supplying the necessary nutrients to the fetus. Another important reason is if the woman has missed the due date for childbirth and doesn’t have the expected signs that she’s going to give birth.

This is to avoid the risk of complications for your baby. However, it’s the doctor who has the final say here.

The characteristics of the neck of the cervix for childbirth

Dilation is the increase in the diameter of the opening of the cervix; in other words, the separation of the “lips of the cervix.”

The specialist establishes 4 requirements that the cervix must meet in order to induce labor. The first thing is to verify the effacement of the cervix (also called cervical ripening), since it must be thin and fine enough to stimulate labor.

If the consistency is soft, then the birth will usually evolve very well. In addition, the position of the cervix should be central with respect to the vagina.

Another important detail is the distance of the baby’s head from the exit of the birth canal, i.e. the vagina. This happens with dilation of the cervix, which should go from 0 to 4 inches. There are several methods to induce labor.

Methods to Induce Labor

4 effective methods to induce labor

These are the methods to induce labor that your specialist can use if you need to bring forward the birth.

Prostaglandin administration

Your specialist may decide to give you prostaglandins if your cervix isn’t very well prepared for childbirth. The function of this medicine is to mature the cervix and prepare it for dilation. In addition, this medicine produces contractions. Doctors will inject this directly into the uterus through an intracervical gel.

The most popular method is by using a kind of tampon, or, alternatively, an oral dose of misoprostol. This synthetic hormone sometimes stimulates contractions and there’s no need to administer oxytocin.

Induction with oxytocin

Oxytocin is administered intravenously in a diluted form, but in small amounts. In this way, they can avoid overdosing and an excessive increase in contractions that could adversely affect the baby.

Doctors should monitor the soon-to-be mother well, to observe the response of the uterus and the fetus. This is the preferred method when the cervix hasn’t softened or thinned or begun to dilate. It can also be used when the uterus is already well dilated.

This medicine is known on the market as Pitocin. It’s a synthetic hormone that acts as the oxytocin that the woman produces and which helps in the birth procedure.

Foley catheter

Another method to induce labor is the Foley catheter. This consists of introducing a catheter of one or two balloons into the cervix without inflating them. Specialists will then inflate them with water in order to put pressure on the cervix. This will stimulate the release of prostaglandins to allow the cervix to open and soften, and contractions will occur.

Methods to Induce Labor

Rupture of the amniotic sac

This method is also called artificial amniotomy. It’s used to reinforce the effects of synthetic hormones. The gynecologist or midwife inserts a long instrument with a hook, called a lancet, into the cervix. It’s a painless and risk-free procedure for the baby and the mother.

In summary, methods to induce labor are an effective way to help your baby to be born safely and without complications. It’s good to know what each one is, as then you’ll be able to trust what your midwife or gynecologist has decided is best.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Salud., O. O. M. de la. (2016). Trabajo de Parto Inducido – métodos/Trabajo de Parto Inducido – Normas. Recomendaciones de La OMS Para La Conducción Del Trabajo de Parto., 44–52. Retrieved from: maternal_ perinatal/conducción-trabajo de parto
  • World Health Organization (WHO). (2016). Trabajo de Parto Inducido – métodos/Trabajo de Parto Inducido – Normas. Recomendaciones de La OMS Para La Conducción Del Trabajo de Parto., 44–52. Retrieved from: maternal_ perinatal/conducción-trabajo de parto

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.