What does Induction of Labour mean?
Induction of labour is the process of starting your labour artificially. There are a number of reasons for this. One might be that you are past your due date. Other reasons include concerns regarding the health and wellbeing of yourself or your baby. Your Midwife or Doctor will discuss all options with you before any decision is reached. This includes explaining the procedure, the care that will be involved, and any risks to you and your baby.
A useful tool to help you make decisions that are right for you and your baby is referred to as ‘BRAINS’. Watch the video below for further information.
Drugs to help start labour?
Labour can be started a number of ways. When you are admitted to Ward 8 at Forth Valley the midwives will discuss the procedure with you and check you and your baby over ensuring you are in good health before the induction begins.
With your consent they will use drugs called prostaglandins to bring on labour. These include pessary or gel prostaglandins. These act like natural hormones and are put into your vagina to trigger labour and prime your cervix. Once this has been done you and your baby will receive regular checks. We check that the prostaglandins have softened your cervix enough to break your waters which would then allow you to be transferred to labour ward. Sometimes the prostaglandins can start labour without further interventions. This however can take 2-3 days.
Starting labour with a balloon catheter?
Out-patient induction may be offered to some women. If this is offered then this method involves a cervical balloon catheter, which is a drug free method of softening and opening your cervix.
You will attend the hospital at a specified time. During this appointment the balloon catheter is gently placed through your cervix and sits between the cervix and your baby’s head without breaking your waters. This helps start labour by applying pressure on the inside of the cervix and by increasing the release of your own natural hormones, prostaglandins. The balloon catheter’s objective is to open your cervix enough so that we are able to break your waters.
Breaking your waters
If during examination your cervix is found to be open and soft then we can miss all above steps and admit you to labour ward to continue the induction process there.
In this situation, we would offer to break your waters (this is an artificial rupture of membranes) – this is when we make a small hole in the membranes to release the amniotic fluid (waters). This is done using an amnihook. This does not harm the baby and should not be painful for you, but the vaginal examination required to do the procedure might be uncomfortable.
Hormones help contractions
We usually wait 1-2 hours for you to establish labour which can be helped by mobilizing. After this time a hormone drip may be started to help start contractions or increase the strength and frequency of your contractions. We would need to put a cannula into your hand to administer the hormone drip called oxytocin.
This hormone is started at a very slow rate and increased until you are having regular strong contractions. It continues until after your baby is born. Whilst having the drip your baby’s heart rate will be continuously monitored.