Induction of Labour

Induction of Labour

Induction of labour is offered to women when they are close to or past their due date, or if there is considered to be a risk to mum or baby if the pregnancy continues. Across the UK the induction rate is almost 50% and Liverpool has one of the highest rates.  

Induction of labour is a process whereby labour is started artificially. A gel, tablet or pessary infused with prostaglandin is inserted behind the cervix. The aim is to create changes to the cervix to allow for the next stage of the induction process. Occasionally using prostaglandin is unsuitable, therefore a catheter balloon is recommended to mechanically dilate the cervix. Once the cervix has begun to dilate, the sack surrounding baby can be punctured to release the fluid. The next stage involves commencing a synthetic oxytocin hormone via an intravenous drip. The drip continues to infuse throughout your labour in increasing doses with the aim of making the uterus contract every 2 -3 minutes. Due to the risks to mum and baby associated with this process, your contractions and baby’s heartbeat will be continuously monitored throughout. At each stage there is a possibility your body resists the artificial induction. This is referred to as a ‘failed induction of labour’. In most cases, if the induction fails, a caesarean section is offered.  

Induction of labour can be safer if you or baby have a medical or obstetric complication. However, at times, induction can be misused and have a negative impact on your labour and birth experience. Complications may arise from the induction process such as, baby becoming distressed, excessive contractions, infection, and an increased risk of instrumental birth or caesarean section.  

The process of labour requires the body and the mind to feel prepared. Feeling fearful can obstruct the flow of hormones that help labour to start and to progress. The concept of having a due date, in itself can produce feelings of anxiety and impatience, leading to unnecessary interventions.  

Every woman as an individual should have care planned and be treated more holistically. Considering the brain delivers the messages for the body to produce the perfect balance of hormones and proteins required for labour, there is no access to support for the mind. Furthermore, the body is expected to embrace the challenging process of labour and birth with minimal preparation. Baby is sometimes just not quite ready or has managed to get into a position that isn’t an ideal position for labour. Preparing for labour and birth should be planned and considered throughout the pregnancy, just as training for a marathon would require more than a couple of weeks of practice and preparation to reach the finish line without injury.  

If you are approaching 37 weeks and hoping to avoid medical induction of labour, there are options to prepare your body for labour. There are complementary therapies that are known to help the body and the mind prepare for labour and birth. For many years, complementary therapies were not accepted in the medical world, however, through clinical trials and reviews of groups of trials, some hospital trusts now offer complementary therapies. This growing body of evidence for safety and efficacy has made complementary therapies more popular. However, many therapists are not confident or not insured to offer therapies to pregnant women. If you are considering complementary therapies to prepare your body and mind for labour and hope to avoid induction of labour, it is advisable to discuss this with a midwife first.  

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