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Labor Induction and Augmentation

Table of Contents


Overview

If you pass your due date and your labor does not start on its own, your doctor may want to try to start (induce) labor. Your doctor may suggest doing this for other reasons. It may be a good idea to induce labor if you have another problem. For example, it may be done if you have high blood pressure. Or it may be a good idea if the placenta can no longer give enough support to the baby.

There are several ways to induce labor, such as using medicine or breaking the amniotic sac.

After you have your baby, you should not have any side effects from the medicine used to start labor.

Ways to induce labor

There are several ways to induce labor.

Medicine to soften the cervix or contract the uterus

Balloon catheter to help induce labor

A balloon catheter, such as a Foley catheter, is a narrow tube with a small balloon on the end. The doctor inserts it into the cervix and inflates the balloon. This helps the cervix open (dilate). The catheter is left in place until the cervix has opened enough for the balloon to fall out (about 3 cm).

Sweeping of the membranes to help induce labor

Sweeping of the membranes separates the amniotic membrane from the uterus enough so that the uterus starts to make prostaglandins. This type of chemical helps trigger contractions and labor. After the cervix is open a little, this step can easily be done in your doctor's or nurse-midwife's office.

Artificial rupture of the membranes to induce labor

To help start or speed up labor, your doctor may rupture your amniotic sac. (This is called rupture of the membranes.) It should only be done after your cervix has started to open (dilate) and the baby's head is firmly descended (engaged) in your pelvis.

Augmentation

If active labor has started on its own but contractions have slowed down or completely stopped, steps may need to be taken to help labor progress. This is called augmentation. It may be done when:


Credits for Labor Induction and Augmentation

Current as of: June 16, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology


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