If you're pregnant, you've probably spent a lot of time thinking about how your baby's birth with go down. And if, like me, you need to be or choose to be induced, you might wonder what to expect. According to experts, your midwife or OB-GYN might choose to use one or more of the different types of inductions depending on a variety of factors, including how far along you are, whether or not your cervix is effaced (thinned out) or dilated (open), your and your baby's health, and your baby's position.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there are five main methods of induction which might be used depending on your Bishop's Score, a number from 0 - 13 that your midwife or OB-GYN will assign your cervix. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), medication might be used to start your labor, including prostaglandins (medications used to "ripen" the cervix) or Pitocin (a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin that induces uterine contractions). According to ACOG, other methods your health care provider might use include manually dilating your cervix with a catheter, stripping your membranes — or placing their finger in your cervix to separate the amniotic sac from the uterus, which causes your body to release natural prostaglandins — and artificially rupturing your membranes, which is also called breaking your water.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), induction of labor is growing in popularity. Nearly 24 percent of vaginal births are the result of some form of induction. According to the Mayo Clinic, some medical reasons for induction of labor include having a health condition (such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, or a uterine infection), going past your due date, your water breaking without labor starting, or certain health conditions impacting your baby. Some women also choose elective inductions, and some OB-GYNs recommend them because risks to your baby increase past 39 weeks gestation. In the end, you and your health care providers will be able to assess your pregnancy, your health, your baby's health, and determine what's best for you and your birth plan. And if induction is in the cards, you'll probably hear all about the following:
According to ACOG, if your cervix is already a bit dilated, "stripping" or "sweeping" your membranes might be enough to start your labor. To perform the procedure, your provider will place a gloved finger inside your cervix and use a sweeping motion to separate your baby's amniotic sac from the side of your uterus. This may cause your body to release prostaglandins, or hormones, which can further thin and dilate your cervix or cause contractions.
According to one review of available research, membrane sweeping may or may not be effective, depending on how far along in your pregnancy you are and the state of your cervix.
Artificial Rupture Of Membranes
According to ACOG, rupturing your baby's amniotic sac or breaking your water, with a small hook during a procedure called an amniotomy, can start contractions and induce labor. The procedure is generally done if you cervix is already dilated and thin and your baby has descended. According to the same site, most women will go into labor within hours after their amniotic sac breaks. This procedure can also be used along with other induction techniques or to help strengthen labor contractions.
If your cervix is not ripe or dilated enough to break your waters, your provider might use synthetic prostaglandins — hormones that your body produces in labor — to thin and dilate your cervix. According to the APA, they will insert a suppository containing prostaglandins into your vagina to help ripen your cervix and induce labor. One advantage of this method of induction is that laboring women are generally able to move around the room with this method.
Fun fact: sperm also contains prostaglandins, according to What to Expect, which is why some providers might suggest unprotected penis in vagina sex to get things started.
According to Mayo Clinic, one way to induce labor is to insert a small catheter with a balloon on one end into your cervix. Once inside, your provider will fill the balloon with saline and the pressure from the balloon can help dilate and ripen your cervix.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), oxytocin is a hormone that your body produces naturally during labor. Pitocin is the brand name of synthetic oxytocin that is commonly used to induce labor by causing your uterus to contract. Pitocin may be used on it's own to augment or induce labor or along with prostaglandins, or other methods. Although many people suggest that Pitocin contractions cause significantly more pain than non-Pitocin contractions, according ACOG that totally depends on the dose used and how your body responds to the medication.
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