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Induction of Labour

What is induction of labour

In most cases, doctors normally let nature take its course (wait for labour to begin naturally). But in 1 out of 3 cases, a doctor might need to intervene due to certain complications (see below). He has 2 choices - inducing labour or performing a caesarian section. In case he has the luxury of time, and both the mother and baby can bear the stress of labour, induction is the preferred option. Induction of labour is a procedure where labour is induced artificially in the mother.  The delivery will still be through the vagina, and the woman will go through all three stages of labour. This option is generally preferred over caesarian because it is as close to a normal vaginal delivery, as possible.

Under what situations does a doctor consider inducing labour

Induction of labour is necessary when:

  • Labour is weak or has stopped all of a sudden
  • A pregnancy is a couple of weeks past its due date
  • The placenta is not functioning and the uterine environment can no longer sustain the little one
  • The water breaks, but is not followed by contractions, and the risk of infection rises
  • The mother is suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney problems, pre-eclampsia or any such condition that threatens her well-being or that of the foetus
  • The foetus is not thriving due to poor nutrition, post maturity, etc. and can survive outside the environs of the uterus

How is labour induced

There are basically 3 ways to induce labour. The simplest method is the insertion of Prostaglandin pessaries into the vagina to cause the uterus to go into labour.

The most common method is the artificial rupturing of membranes (ARM) that surround the foetus. If the cervix is not ripe and ready, pain relief medication is administered and Prostaglandin E2 suppositories (hormones that cause natural labour) or gel could be applied too. The mother might be given a dose of mineral oil or asked to stimulate her nipples to start off the contractions.

But in some cases, oxytocin, which is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland during pregnancy, has to be administered externally to activate the uterus. This hormone is released when the nipples are stimulated, causing the uterus to contract and is considered a trigger for normal labour.

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