Induction of Labour
While the majority of pregnant women go into labour naturally, some women need a little bit of help. Perhaps they are over their due date or have a medical issue that warrants giving birth soon. Whatever the reason, if you are going to be induced, you will likely have questions. Will it be painful? How is it different from regular labour? What will be used to induce labour? Put your mind at ease and get a better idea of the process by reading on.
Induction of labour is carried out when it is felt that your baby is better off out of you than inside. This means that something is making its residence in your womb risky - be it for you or the baby.
The most common reason for inducing labour is due to going over dates. Other reasons include diseases of pregnancy (eg. preeclampsia), poor growth in the baby, or unexplained bleeding at term. The aim when inducing labour is to make it as much like a normal labour as possible. By doing this, the chances of a normal delivery are increased, and it it needn\'t be more painful.
How are Contractions Started?
The hormone your body makes during labour is called oxytocin. It is made in a small area of the brain and released into the blood stream via the pituitary gland. How your body actually starts labour is still not known, in spite of many years of research. We know many of the hormonal changes that happen, but the actual trigger remains elusive.
Oxytocin has been produced in the laboratory and the synthetic drug is used to start the uterus contracting. Unfortunately, it is not well absorbed in the stomach and needs to be given by a drip. This route of administration also means that the concentration of oxytocin can be increased or decreased should your contractions be too intense or not strong enough.
Breaking the Waters
If we just start oxytocin going, you will start contracting, but the contractions are not as efficient as when your waters have gone. Because of this, it is usual not to start oxytocin until the membranes around your babe have been broken. This sounds painful, but in fact is little more uncomfortable than a normal vaginal examination (which is uncomfortable enough!).