Women’s Health Care Resources

Obstetrics Services

Induction of Labor

Labor induction is a procedure used to stimulate uterine contractions during pregnancy to accomplish delivery prior to the onset of natural labor. Successful labor induction usually leads to a vaginal birth. Your doctor might recommend inducing you for various reasons, mainly when there is concern for the health of you or your baby. Delivery before the onset of natural labor is indicated when the risks associated with continuing the pregnancy outweigh the risks associated with early delivery.

There are associated risks of labor induction including infection and the need for a C-section. It is important to understand why and how labor induction is done.

To determine if labor induction is necessary, your doctor will evaluate several factors including your health, your baby’s health, your baby’s age and size, your baby’s position in the uterus, and the status of your cervix.

Labor Induction Might be Recommended If:

You are past your due date and labor hasn’t started naturally

Premature rupture of membranes

Uterine infection

Growth restriction of the baby

There’s not enough amniotic fluid surrounding the baby (oligohydramnios)

The placenta has partially or fully peeled off the wall of the uterus

You have a medical condition that might put you or your baby at risk, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, preeclampsia, etc.

Some women request labor induction for convenience or to avoid causing a sudden disruption at home or work. Elective induction can only be done on or after 39 weeks of gestation. Induction of labor can increase the risk for cord prolapse where the umbilical cord slips into the vagina before delivery. Your provider can discuss the risks and benefits of labor induction with you.

You May Not Be a Candidate For Labor Induction If:

You’ve had a prior C-section with a classical incision

The placenta is covering your cervix (placenta previa)

Prior uterine rupture

Cord prolapse

Your baby is lying crosswise in the uterus (transverse)

You have an active genital herpes infection

Your birth canal is too small to allow for a normal vaginal delivery

In most cases, labor induction leads to a successful vaginal birth. If labor induction doesn’t lead to delivery, a C-section might be needed. If the induction leads to a C-section, your health care provider can help you decide whether to attempt a vaginal delivery with a subsequent pregnancy or to schedule a repeat C-section.


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