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5 Things Every Woman Should Know about Induction of Labour

Updated: Mar 6

It is important to remember that birth is as safe as everything else in life. That is to say - nothing in life is 100% risk free. Driving in our car or walking down the street or going on a plane all carry a level of risk. All be it very small. And birth is no different.

When we consider an induction, it is usually from a place of fear and to do with risk - and the biggest risk of all being stillbirth. In Scotland last year the % of stillbirth babies born was 0.4%. That means that 99.6% of babies were born safely. If you are being offered an induction due to a risk factor - find out how high that risk is - and remember induction itself carries its own risks.

1. You have a choice.

It really is that simple. If doctors are recommending an induction for you, it is YOUR choice whether you accept that or not. There is no law or rule that means you have to have one. Just because you have a risk factor indicating an induction may be best - it is STILL your choice.

Just because they are recommending an induction does not mean that it is an emergency and your baby needs to be born right away - or when they reach 38, 39, 40, 41 or 42 weeks. If it did - they wouldn't be recommending an induction they would be recommending a c-section.

Ultimately, whether you have an induction or not is your choice. The best question to ask is 'What happens if we wait [another day/week/for labour to start naturally]?' This will help you gauge how serious your situation is. If they are happy to wait another week or more then it is clearly not that serious.

You also have a choice at every step - doctors and midwives need your consent for every intervention. From vaginal exams to the use of CTG monitoring. You can say no. However many would say it is a package deal - you can refuse vaginal exams, for example, as is your right. But without knowing how far along you are or if your waters have broken - midwives can't give you the drip.

2. Expect to wait

Just because you are scheduled for an induction at 4pm on Saturday, does not mean it will start at 4pm on Saturday. It is not uncommon for inductions to be rescheduled to another day if midwives are exceptionally busy. If you are taken at 4pm, it is likely things won't 'kick off' until closer to 6/7pm. You will be shown to a bay in a 4 bed ward, your dinner will be ordered and you will be monitored with CTG before anything even begins. After your dinner, your cervix will be checked and this will determine the method of induction you will be started on.

If your cervix is found to be 'unfavourable' you will be offered a pessary to begin with. This is given 24hours to soften the cervix. A gel is then used and this repeated after 6hours. Priming your cervix can take up to 2-3days. This is prior to a drip being offered. A drip can take 3-24 hours but 6hours is a good average. Some women do not respond to the drip, in this case a c-section is recommended.