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What to Expect with Induction of Labour

Giving birth is a huge moment filled with anticipation and a mix of emotions. For some expectant mothers, the process of labour induction becomes part of their birth journey. Understanding what to expect can alleviate concerns and prepare you for the experience.

Labour induction involves stimulating contractions before they begin naturally. This process is typically recommended when it’s safer for your baby to be born sooner rather than later or when complications arise. The process takes longer than your body going into labour naturally, as your body is being made to do something it is not yet ready to do.

Reasons for Induction

Medical Necessity

In some cases, it becomes necessary due to medical conditions affecting either the mother or the baby. These conditions may include gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or decreased foetal movement.

Age Of Expectant Mother

If you’re 40 or older, you might be offered induction of labour at 39 weeks. This is because pregnant women over 40 have a similar stillbirth risk at 39 weeks of gestation to women in their mid-20s at 41 weeks of gestation.

Post-term Pregnancy

Pregnancies that extend beyond 42 weeks may pose risks to the baby, prompting healthcare professionals to recommend it to prevent complications.

Maternal Health Concerns

If the mother’s health is at risk due to conditions such as high blood pressure or kidney disease, it may be advised to ensure both her and the baby’s well-being.

Preparation for Induction

Before the process begins, expectant mothers are admitted to the hospital for monitoring. Medical staff will assess the baby’s well-being and prepare the mother for labour.

Hospital Admission

Upon arrival at the hospital, expectant mothers are assessed to determine the best course of action. This may involve reviewing medical history and conducting tests to assess the baby’s health.

Monitoring Devices

During labour induction, various monitoring devices are used to track the baby’s heart rate and the mother’s contractions. These devices help healthcare providers ensure the safety of both mother and baby throughout the process.

Methods of Induction

There are several methods used to initiate labour, depending on the circumstances and your medical history.

Membrane Sweeping

Membrane sweeping involves gently separating the amniotic sac from the cervix to release hormones that may trigger contractions.

Prostaglandin Pessaries

Prostaglandin gel is applied to the cervix to soften and prepare it for labour. This method helps ripen the cervix and may lead to the onset of contractions.

Artificial Rupture of Membranes

An internal examination is performed and the amniotic sac surrounding your baby is broken using a small hook (breaking your waters). It may feel uncomfortable but should not be painful.

Synthetic Oxytocin

Synthetic oxytocin is a hormone administered intravenously to stimulate contractions. It’s commonly used when other methods of induction have been unsuccessful.

Duration of Induction Process

The duration varies from woman to woman and depends on factors such as the method used and the body’s response to the stimulation.

Varies by Individual

While some women may go into labour shortly after induction, others may require several hours or even days for the process to take effect.

Monitoring Progress

Healthcare professionals closely monitor the progress, adjusting interventions as needed to ensure a safe and successful delivery.

Pain Management during Induction

Managing pain is essential to ensure the mother’s comfort and wellbeing throughout the process.

Options Available

Women undergoing induction have access to various pain relief options, including epidurals, nitrous oxide, and intravenous pain medications.

Importance of Communication

Effective communication between the mother and healthcare professionals is crucial for determining the most appropriate pain management strategies and ensuring a positive birth experience.

Potential Risks and Complications Of Induction

While it is generally safe, there are potential risks and complications that expectant mothers should be aware of.

Uterine Hyperstimulation

Excessive contractions, known as uterine hyperstimulation, can occur during induction and may pose risks to both mother and baby if not promptly addressed.

Foetal Distress

Changes in the baby’s heart rate or other signs of distress may occur during labour induction, requiring immediate medical attention to ensure the baby’s safety.


Induction increases the risk of infection, particularly if the amniotic sac has been ruptured for an extended period or if invasive procedures are performed.

Support during Labour Induction

Receiving support from healthcare professionals and loved ones can help expectant mothers feel more confident and relaxed.

Role of Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare professionals play a crucial role in supporting women through the process, providing guidance, reassurance, and medical care as needed.

Emotional Support for the Mother

Emotional support from partners, family members, and friends can help alleviate anxiety and stress, promoting a more positive birthing experience.

Progression of Labour

Labour induction follows a series of stages, each marked by specific changes in the body as it prepares for childbirth.

Stages of Labour

The stages of labour include early labour, active labour, transition, and delivery, each characterised by distinct symptoms and physical changes.

Relaxation Techniques

Practicing relaxation techniques can help women cope with the challenges of labour induction and promote a smoother birthing process.

Birth and Delivery

As labour progresses, expectant mothers can anticipate signs indicating the imminent arrival of their baby.

Active Labour Signs

Signs of active labour include regular contractions, cervical dilation, and the urge to push, indicating that delivery is near.

Assisted Delivery Methods

In some cases, doctors may recommend assisted delivery methods, such as vacuum extraction or forceps, to facilitate the birth process.

Recovery after Induction

Following childbirth, mothers require adequate rest and support to recover from the physical and emotional demands of labour induction.

Immediate Postpartum Care

Immediate postpartum care involves monitoring the mother and baby for any complications and providing support with breastfeeding and bonding.

Breastfeeding Support

Breastfeeding support is important for new mothers, ensuring they receive guidance and assistance with establishing breastfeeding and addressing any challenges that may arise.

Emotional Impact of Induction

It can have a significant emotional impact on expectant mothers, relating to the lack of control of the birth process, and connection with their baby.

Managing Expectations

Managing expectations and remaining flexible throughout the induction process can help women cope with unexpected challenges and changes in their birth plan, which are inevitable as the birth won’t always happen as planned.

Bonding with the Baby

Despite the challenges of induction, many women find that the experience strengthens their bond with their baby, fostering feelings of love, joy, and gratitude.

Postpartum Follow-up

After childbirth, mothers and babies require ongoing medical care and support to ensure their continued health and well-being.

Check-ups for Mother and Baby

Postpartum follow-up appointments allow doctors to monitor the mother’s recovery and the baby’s growth and development, addressing any concerns or issues that arise.

Support Groups and Resources

Joining support groups or accessing resources for new mothers can provide valuable assistance and a sense of community as women navigate the joys and challenges of parenthood.

Partner’s Role in the Induction Process

Partners play an important role in supporting expectant mothers, providing comfort, encouragement, and advocacy throughout the birthing journey.

Providing Support and Comfort

Partners can offer emotional support and physical comfort, helping to ease anxiety and promote relaxation.

Involvement in Decision-making

Including partners in decision-making regarding labour induction allows them to be active participants in the birthing process, fostering a sense of partnership and collaboration.

Labour induction is a common procedure that helps ensure the safety of both mother and baby in some circumstances. By understanding what to expect during the process, expectant mothers can approach childbirth with confidence and peace of mind, knowing that they are in capable hands.


How long does labour induction take?

It can vary in duration, ranging from a few hours to several days, depending on individual factors and the chosen method of induction.

Is labour induction painful?

It can be accompanied by discomfort or pain, but women have access to various pain relief options to manage their symptoms effectively.

What are the risks of labour induction?

While it is generally safe, potential risks include uterine hyperstimulation, foetal distress, and infection, among others.

Can I still have a vaginal birth after induction?

In most cases, it does not prevent the possibility of a vaginal birth, but it’s important to discuss your options with your doctor.

How can I prepare for labour induction?

To prepare for labour induction, it’s essential to follow your doctor’s instructions, stay informed about the process, and discuss any concerns or questions you may have.

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