This Is What Cervidil Actually Feels Like, According To Experts

by Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

I never expected to be induced. In fact, I'd pictured my water breaking in the kitchen (thanks, television), and a mad, excited dash to the hospital. Alas, it wasn't to be. At 39 weeks, my doctor decided to try a prostaglandin called Cervidil. It sounds intense, but does Cervidil hurt? Personally, I'm a fan, but every woman's experience is different — and it's crucial to note that with this and other cervical ripeners, some moms are in for a long wait.

Dr. Angela Jones, an OB-GYN and Astroglide's resident sexual health advisor, explains in an email to Romper that Cervidil isn't an induction agent per se, but rather a cervical ripening agent. "Cytotec, Cervidil, and Foley catheters are typically used to make the cervix more favorable for a successful induction. Keep in mind, cervical ripening agents . . . do occasionally put expectant moms into labor."

Of these ripening agents, Jones considers the Foley catheter to be the most uncomfortable, "as it involves mechanical dilation or stretching of the cervix." The method your doctor chooses probably depends on their own preference and experience.

I got lucky with Cervidil, which I still think of as a jellyfish the nurse stuck to my cervix. After only four hours of zaps and stings, I felt something like menstrual cramps, with a razor's edge. Shortly thereafter, the jellyfish broke my water, and I was officially in labor. For other moms, however, patience is the name of the game. "I always try to inform patients that inductions can take days, and labor is a process," Jones writes.

But are contractions brought on by Cervidil more painful than those occurring in a spontaneous labor? Dr. Adrienne D. Zertuche, MD, MPH, an OB-GYN with Atlanta Women's Healthcare Specialists, admits that the issue is difficult to study scientifically, so it's hard to know for sure. However, in an email to Romper, Zertuche explains that "Cervidil ripening typically causes menstrual-like uterine cramping. Some women also experience vaginal pressure and full-blown contractions."

I followed the Cervidil-brick-road all the way to labor, but others should expect a longer wait, and possibly, augmentation with another method. While my Cervidil induction was a far cry from my water-breaking-in-the-kitchen fantasies, the fact is, I loved my birth. If medically necessary, I'd choose Cervidil — that weird but gentle jellyfish — again. Yes, contractions are painful, but in my own experience, Cervidil just stings.