Induced birth: how it works and when it is done

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Marie-Ange Demory
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Induced delivery

Il induced delivery it is an obstetric technique of great importance because it allows to do to be born the child quickly where complications or problems occur at the end of pregnancy and can still guarantee the mother a vaginal birth without having to resort to a caesarean section.





In this article

  • Indications
  • How it works
  • risks
  • How long does it last
  • Experiences

Indications for induced delivery

Labor can be induced prematurely if you have:



  • malfunction of the placenta which causes the baby to stop growing, resulting in a detachment or deterioration of the placenta;
  • pathologies that afflict the parturient such as pre-eclampsia;
  • pregnancy beyond term with no onset of labor: typically wait a week or two before moving on to induction;
  • oligoidramnios: that is, a small amount of amniotic fluid that can put the baby at risk;
  • early breaking of the waters without any contraction, which exposes the mother and fetus to a greater risk of infections.
Read also: Childbirth: the stages of labor

How induced delivery works

The techniques used for the induction of childbirth are four:



  • Detachment of membranes: the separation of the membranes consists in manually removing the membranes from the cervix, leaving them intact. It is done by the obstetrician or gynecologist and can also cause heavy bleeding.
  • Artificial water breaking: it is done through a sort of hook. This practice is painless and is usually used when the cervix has already begun its dilation process
  • Prostaglandins:  consists in the introduction of vaginal candles inside the uterus. Although sometimes this practice does not trigger the onset of labor, it allows the softening of a cervix that is still well closed, facilitating dilation with the use of oxytocin. There ripening of the cervix it can also be induced through a pessary, i.e. a silicone ring that is placed in the vagina or with the use of mechanical dilators, such as a Foley catheter or derivatives of the laminaria seaweed. In particular, the Foley catheter is a small flexible rubber tube that has an inflatable balloon at the ends: it is inserted into the vagina and then inflated with saline solution so that the balloon, swelling, goes to widen the walls of the cervix.
  • Oxytocin: A synthetic version of the hormone that triggers contractions is injected through a drip. Oxytocin works by stimulating contractions and making them more effective in the dilation process.

The risks of induced childbirth

However, all these procedures involve gods risks for the mother and the child and therefore it is important to make a careful assessment of the situation before deciding to practice an induction. In some cases it will still be necessary to perform a caesarean section.

In general, the risks of induced birth are due to:

  • appeal to Caesarean section: not all induced deliveries then end with a vaginal birth, especially if the choice to practice induction arose from complications and problems that can put the fetus or the mother at risk. rapid and decisive labor;
  • birth preterm: it is necessary to make a careful evaluation of the risks and benefits of induction to birth, especially in order not to run the risk of the baby being premature. For this reason, induction is not practiced before the 39th week of pregnancy;
  • hemorrhages after childbirth, caused by the absence of spontaneous contraction of the uterine walls;
  • abnormal heart rhythm of the child, some medicines used to induce induction, such as prostaglandins or oxytocin, can lead to a decrease in heart rate;
  • increased risk of infections both in the mother and in the child.

How long does the induced birth last?

Pier depends on the degree of ripening of the cervix. In case of severe immaturity it can take too giorni before actual labor begins. Conversely, if the cervix is ​​mature enough, an induction can quickly trigger labor.

In general we can say that with oxytocin you wait about 4-5 hours to see if it has an effect, while the prostaglandin plugs are left to act for twelve hours. Mechanical methods, such as rupture of the water or the detachment of the membranes, should start labor in a short time, but there is still a tendency to wait twelve hours before making an evaluation and understanding whether to try another method or go directly to the operating room for the cesarean.

In case a first method of induction should not be successful, you can try another, but even in this case it will be the doctor who will make a careful assessment of the situation and the relationship between risks and benefits and choose whether to opt for a new induction or a caesarean section.

The experiences of induced childbirth

Typically contractions and labor induced labor can be more painful of those related to natural childbirth and doctors warn the woman of this possibility. It is therefore good to think about the concrete possibility of having an epidural to feel less pain.

On you find many childbirth stories, and some also of mothers who have experienced induced childbirth. This is the case of Emanuela who in the 41st week gave birth to her son with an oxytocin-induced birth.

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