Initiation of labor, or induction, is an artificial initiation of contractions in the uterus to initiate labor. It is simply a specific action that gynecologists use under certain circumstances.
In this article we will try to tell you everything you need to know about induction.
Initiation of childbirth
Unlike in a normal birth, where the contractions start themselves, they are started with the help of certain drugs during an induction.
Although it is recommended to wait until the contractions start on their own, it may be necessary to initiate the birth for various reasons. In these cases, the doctor will start them.
When do doctors recommend initiating labor?
Initiation of childbirth is recommended in special situations that may be risky for the mother or baby’s health. These include:
- Torn membranes before birth. When the water runs in a pregnant woman, it is common for the contractions to start. In some cases, however, this can happen early, which means that the contractions do not start. If they have not started after 12 to 24 hours, the doctor can start the birth to avoid complications.
- Prolonged pregnancy. After the 42nd week of pregnancy, specialists can consider initiating the birth if it has not happened naturally.
- Illness in mother. In some cases, the mother may suffer from some disease, such as diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), etc. In these cases, to avoid complications, it may be better to start the birth.
- Presence of baby beak (meconium). Childhood jaws can be potentially dangerous or even fatal to the fetus. Because of this, it is better to initiate labor.
- Large fetus (macrosomia). These are cases where the fetus weighs more than 4,500 grams. Since this entails a certain risk in both mother and child, the doctor may recommend an initiation of the birth.
- Fetal death in utero. Unfortunately, in these cases, the birth should be induced.
After a thorough assessment of the case and the specific circumstances of both the mother and the fetus, the specialist will be the one to decide whether to initiate the birth or not.
How is the birth started?
Once the specialist has decided what is the best way to initiate the birth, the process begins. It is carried out in two phases:
First phase: Expansion of the birth canal
To initiate labor, the birth canal must be widened by at least 2-3 centimeters. Your doctor will prescribe prostaglandins (hormones that stimulate the uterus) so that the process of enlargement begins.
However, it may take 12 to 24 hours after prostaglandins are given before enlargement begins. Because of this, it is usually given in the evening so that the mother can rest and be ready for the birth the next day.
Second stage: Amniotomy or oxytocin
When the birth canal is dilated, the gynecologist opens the placenta to stimulate contractions. However, if they do not start naturally after the placenta is damaged, your doctor may give you oxytocin.
Oxytocin is a hormone that causes the uterine muscles to begin to contract, and it is given intravenously. At the same time, it follows the pulse of both mother and fetus, as well as the contractions.
Usually the first dose of oxytocin is low and will be increased when the gynecologist deems it necessary. After receiving oxytocin, the contractions can begin abruptly and painfully, which can be painful in both mother and fetus. Because of this, the gynecologist will closely monitor the entire process.
From here, the birth will take place naturally unless there are complications that require a caesarean section.
Risks when initiating labor
Although the process is long and can be painful, induction does not cause serious complications.
The most significant risk for the mother, comes from the long process that can cause fatigue and fever (due to the medication).
In connection with this, keep in mind that it can take up to 4 hours after prostaglandins have been given for the cervix to expand by 3 cm. Furthermore, if you add the hours it takes to give oxytocin and the birth itself, it is a very long process.
Furthermore, the fetus may not feel relaxed in the womb while it is happening. Because of this, the gynecologist may decide that a caesarean section is necessary, although it also comes with some complications. However, this is not always the case. In fact, in most cases where the birth is initiated, one ends up with a normal vaginal birth without any complications.
If this is the case with you, do not worry. Regardless of how long the process is, you will be guided all the way by medical personnel. Within a few hours, you will have a little one in your arms!