Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

Loading

Induction of Labor

By

Julie S. Moldenhauer

, MD, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Last full review/revision Jan 2020| Content last modified Jan 2020
Click here for the Professional Version
NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version

Induction of labor is the artificial starting of labor.

Usually, labor is induced by giving the woman oxytocin, a drug that makes the uterus contract more frequently and more forcefully. The oxytocin given is identical to the natural oxytocin produced by the pituitary gland. It is given intravenously with an infusion pump, so that the amount of drug given can be controlled precisely.

Before contractions of the uterus can be induced, the cervix must be thinned (effaced) and ready to open (dilate) so that the baby can be delivered. Several techniques can be used to help the cervix efface and dilate:

  • A prostaglandin (such as misoprostol) may be given vaginally.

  • A thin, flexible tube (catheter) with a balloon attached can be inserted into the cervix. The balloon is inflated to put gentle pressure on and thus dilate the cervix.

  • Dried seaweed stems (laminaria) may be inserted into the cervix. The laminaria absorb fluids and then expand, thus dilating the cervix.

Problems that usually require induction of labor include

Sometimes labor is induced for reasons unrelated to a health issue. For example, labor may be induced when a woman has a history of rapid deliveries. In such cases, inducing labor means that a doctor or other health care practitioner can be present to deliver the baby.

Labor is not induced in the following circumstances:

Throughout induction and labor, the fetus’s heart rate is monitored electronically. At first, a monitor is placed on the woman’s abdomen. Occasionally, after the membranes are ruptured, an internal monitor is inserted through the vagina and attached to the fetus’s scalp.

If induction is unsuccessful, the baby is delivered by cesarean.

More Information

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
Others also read

Also of Interest

Videos

View All
Autoimmune Disorders
Video
Autoimmune Disorders
3D Models
View All
Contents of the Female Pelvis
3D Model
Contents of the Female Pelvis

SOCIAL MEDIA

TOP