Labor induction is inducing labor using medications. Many of the methods followed to induce labor are mainly to speed up the process and for many other reasons. Labor is induced in about 20% of pregnant women across the globe. The birth of the baby usually starts between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy by the process of labor induction.
Stages of Labor
There are three stages of labor-
• Active labor is the first and longest stage.
• Birth of the baby is the second stage also called as pushing phase.
• Delivery of the placenta is the third stage and this is the shortest stage of the other two stages.
• The cervix and uterus play key roles in labor. The cervix should open completely and should become thin to allow the head of the baby to pass through the vagina. In most of the women, the cervix will start to become thin and open a few weeks before labor begins.
• Women will feel the pain when uterus starts contracting and pressure in the back moves around her lower abdomen which results in the tightening of the stomach.
• The contractions results in opening cervix, pushing the baby into the vagina etc. They will become more intense, last longer, and come closer together until the birth of the baby.
• Very few women will have Braxton Hicks contractions. These “false labor pains” will occur more frequently at the end of the day.
• During active labor, the fluid-filled amniotic sac which contains the baby may rupture which will lead to contractions.
Reasons for Labor Induction:
Labor is induced to cause a pregnant women cervix to become thin which enhances the opening of cervix which leads to the vaginal birth of baby. If the health of the woman or the baby is at risk labor will be induced. Depending upon the condition of the pregnancy, the status of cervix, and other factors labor is induced. Labor induction is generally not done before 39 weeks of pregnancy unless a problem begins. Your pregnancy is postterm (more than 42 weeks). There are many reasons for labor induction, which are as follows:
• High blood pressure during the time of pregnancy.
• Health related issues which could harm the mother and baby.
• Any infection in the uterus.
• The premature rupture of membranes (your water has broken too early).
Methods of labor induction:
There are many methods to start labor. Some may be done at doctor’s place. Other methods are done in a hospital, where labor and delivery services are nearby and the fetus can be monitored.
Cervical ripening or dilation
In this method some medications are used to make the cervix very soft and make it stretch for labor like some special dilators can be inserted into the cervix to widen it. The medication which is predominantly used is Prostaglandins which prepares the cervix for labor. They are synthetic chemicals produced naturally by the body. These drugs can be inserted into the vagina or taken by mouth.
Stripping the membranes causes the body to release prostaglandins, which soften the cervix and may cause contractions. To strip the membrane the doctor will check the cervix with a gloved finger and then connect the thin membrane with amniotic sac to the wall of uterus.
Amniotic Sac rupturing
If the amniotic sac has not broken already, breaking the sac will make the contractions start; the doctor will create a small opening in the amniotic sac. This step may lead to some discomfort. Rupturing the amniotic sac is done after the baby’s head has moved down in the pelvis. Most women go into labor within hours of their water breaking.
Oxytocin is an artificial medication which causes contractions. When oxytocin is used to induce labor or make contractions stronger, it flows into bloodstream through an intravenous (IV) tube in arm. A pump hooked up to the IV tube controls the amount given.
A C-section is also called as cesarean section which involves creating incisions in the mother’s abdominal wall and uterus which leads to the surgical delivery of a baby. Generally considered safe, C-sections also have more risks than vaginal births. There's far less chance of infection and severe bleeding with a vaginal delivery than with a C-section. C-sections are not an advisable mode and it is always worth avoiding if possible. However, these common surgical deliveries can help women with high-risk pregnancies avoid dangerous delivery-room complications and can save the life of the mother and/or baby in emergency situations.
C-sections are done by doctors who care for pregnant women before, during, and after birth. Although more and more women are choosing midwives to deliver their babies, midwives of any licensing degree cannot perform C-sections.