Techniques for Inducing Labor

Techniques for Inducing Labor

Last update: 26 April, 2018

When it comes to childbirth, in some cases it’s necessary for specialists to intervene with specific techniques for inducing labor.

There are various techniques to induce labor that can be applied in these cases. From the use of drugs to different natural methods, it all depends on the mother, her health, and the baby’s status.

There are various reasons that births don’t occur naturally. It may be due to chemical processes within the mother, like her body not being able to secrete the hormones associated with labor.

Also, the baby may not be completely mature and may need another week until birth. In these cases, a specialist’s opinion is indispensable to evaluate the baby’s condition.

It is important to remember that gestation and birth dates are not always precise. In general, decisions about the induction of labor are made around week 42.

Doctors also recommend inducing labor when there are problems with the placenta. The fetus doesn’t receive the necessary nutrients, and therefore, is at risk.

Another reason to induce labor can be the presence of an anomaly in the pregnancy. For example, preeclampsia, high blood pressure, infections, diabetes, or having lost a baby previously.

Techniques for inducing labor

  1. Medications

Drugs may be used to increase contractions and induce labor. The most common one is oxytocin or Pitocin.

This hormone is released naturally before birth. However, to provoke bigger contractions it is administered intravenously.

Another common drug is synthetic prostaglandins. Similar to oxytocin, this hormone is secreted naturally, prior to labor. The synthetic version is applied to the vagina in an ovule or gel form.

Its function is to mature the uterine lining. It is applied when there isn’t sufficient dilation. In some cases, it can also provoke contractions.

The use of drugs can have risks in women with C-sections or uterine operations.

If the contractions are very strong, they can provoke the expulsion of the placenta. In the specific case of oxytocin, it can also affect the baby’s cardiac rhythm.

  1. Foley catheter

This technique involves placing a catheter with one or two balloons on the end into the cervix.

The balloons are filled with water to place pressure on the cervix provoking the dilation and the natural release of prostaglandins.

When the cervix has dilated enough, the balloons and catheter are removed.

  1. Membrane separation

Once the cervix has dilated, a specialist can manually separate the amniotic sac from the lower part of the uterus. This helps release prostaglandins and accelerate the process of delivery.
  1. Water breaking

During the labor process, contractions usually cause the natural breaking of the amniotic sac. This contributes to dilation, and the birth of the baby.

However, there are instances where the natural breaking is not produced. As one of the techniques to induce labor, a specialist induces the water breaking unnaturally.

The most common method is by inserting a needle into the sac. This happens when there is already partial dilation.

The risk of this technique is contracting a uterine infection. That’s why it should be done under strict observation and medical recommendation.

  1. Physical activity

Exercise is one of the natural ways to induce labor, since it helps to induce contractions. For example, walking can help the baby to descend.

Walking also decreases the mother’s anxiety and improves the oxygenation of the mother and the baby.

The same thing happens with dancing, which can bring on the increase in adrenaline that inhibits oxytocin.

Techniques for Inducing Labor
  1. Sexual activity

Specialists prohibit sexual relations after week 38. This is because sperm contains prostaglandins.

However, when it is needed to induce labor, sexual relations and ejaculation into the vagina are recommended. This allows the hormone to do its job.

Another thing that can bring on labor is an orgasm, which provokes maternal uterine contractions.

  1. Nipple stimulation

Stimulating the mother’s nipples generates oxytocin which accelerates contractions.

The stimulation can be done by hand or with a breast pump. This technique will also prepare your breasts for breastfeeding.

Although it’s a good idea to know about the different techniques to induce labor, remember that each important decision that you make during pregnancy should be evaluated by a specialist.

There’s a lot at risk.

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