Your health care provider might recommend inducing your labor if your pregnancy goes more than a week beyond your due date.
An induction might also be recommended if there is a risk for you or your baby in continuing the pregnancy. This can occur when you have preeclampsia. It could also occur if your baby is not growing adequately (also known as “IUGR”), has decreased amniotic fluid around it (also known as “oligohydramnios”), or has other medical conditions.
There are several ways to induce your labor. If the cervix has already started to soften and open, synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin®) can be administered intravenously to get your labor going.
If your cervix has not softened or opened up, a prostaglandin tablet called Misoprostol (Cytotec ®) can be given orally or vaginally in order to soften your cervix. In some hospitals, a prostaglandin vaginal suppository called Dinoprostone (Cervidil ®) is used instead for the same purpose.
After the cervix has softened with the help of a prostaglandin, an IV drip of Oxytocin (Pitocin®) is usually started to stimulate uterine contractions.
Another way to induce your labor is for your practitioner to break your bag of water while doing a cervical examination. However, this can only be performed if your cervix has already dilated and should only be done by a trained health care provider.
A final method to induce labor is using a balloon at the end of a soft tube that is inserted through the cervical canal and then inflated to help expand the cervix. An partially open cervix is, however, also a prerequisite with this method.