Planned birth and induced birth

Induced labour

In the UK just over 20 percent of births are induced. This is nearly always on medical grounds for reasons that either affect the mother or foetus.

Occasionally induction will be carried out for special circumstances for example when a partner in the armed services is due to posted away from home.

There are a number of methods that can be used to get labour started or induced.
  • Membrane sweep - the midwife during an internal examination will separate the membranes that surround your baby away from the cervix.
  • Artificially rupturing the membranes (ARM) - this is not commonly done as there are risks of infection, but if medically beneficial the membranes surrounding your baby are broken using a special hook.
  • Drugs such as oxytocinon given through a drip or prostaglandin pessaries inserted into the vagina. They are both synthetic hormones that stimulates your uterus to contract.

When will I be induced

  • Most commonly induction of labour is performed when a pregnancy has gone beyond 41 weeks.
  • If your waters have broken but labour hasn't started within 24 hours then it is recommended to be induced to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Women who have diabetes, an induction will be offered after 38 weeks.
  • Any chronic disease, or hypertension that threatens yours or the babies life may require induction.
  • If having an induced labour for personal circumstances then this will be decided with your obstetrician and midwife.

Reasons induce labour

  • When there are risks for the baby or the mother, for example;
    • Pre existing medical conditions for the mother eg diabetes, liver or renal disease, Autoimmune disorders, cardiac and high blood pressure (pre -eclampsia) all of which can worsen with pregnancy.
    • Suspected fetal growth delay, other developmental and physical abnormalities of the baby
  • When your waters have broken, but labour has not started within 24 hours.
  • Prolonged pregnancy from 41 weeks onwards

Risks and disadvantages of an induced birth

  • Labour is more medicalised, requiring more intervention including the use of forceps.
  • The duration of labour can be longer
  • Contractions may be more painful.
  • There is a risk of failure therefore a higher rate of Caesarean sections.
  • The possibility of some side effects to the medication used to induce labour.
  • Hyper-stimulation of the uterus can cause fetal distress and a lack of oxygen to the baby.
  • Rupture of the uterus can occur especially in women that have had many babies.

The doctors and midwives looking after you will discuss the risks and complications to an induced birth so you are able to make an informed choice about your care.

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