Induction of labour is a process designed to start labour artificially. In most pregnancies labour starts naturally before 41 weeks (NICE 2022). Up to one in three women will have their labour induced in the UK (NICE July 2021) mainly when pregnancy has gone past the due date but also for various other reasons.
Why may induction be recommended?
There are a number of reasons why induction may be recommended. These are usually when it is felt you or your baby’s health is likely to benefit from an earlier birth, rather than waiting for labour to start by itself. Sometime induction of labour has benefits, but it also has risks. It is up to you to choose whether induction is right for you and your baby. It is important that you are aware of the reason for your individual circumstances so that you can make an informed decision about induction of labour. Please discuss this with your midwife or obstetrician.
The process of induction of labour can involve different stages.
- Preparing your body by softening and opening your cervix, using medication or other techniques
- Breaking your waters to encourage contractions
- An oxytocin drip to progress labour.
Sometimes there are unavoidable delays between your given induction date and the day you actually birth your baby. A bed space is required on Hazel ward to start the induction process. The midwife will aim to keep you updated throughout the day/night on the bed capacity and will invite you in once a bed is available. A room is required on Delivery Suite where you actually give birth. At these times the midwife and the consultant obstetrician will constantly be reviewing the situation to ensure safety for you and other women.
Practical advice what to bring
Please bring your overnight bag and your baby’s clothes, nappies etc. As the Induction process can sometimes take some time, please feel free to bring in some books/magazine/card games etc. to help pass the time and do not forget any mobile device chargers. We do provide food and refreshments for women being induced, but we cannot feed partners. The restaurant or shop within the hospital offer a wide range of food and drink.
Arrangements for partners
You may have one birthing partner stay with you during the induction process. The facilities for partners are limited with only some recliner chairs being available for rest. Toilets for partners are available but there are no showering facilities.
Parking is pay on foot (take a ticket at the barrier and use a pay point machine before leaving). However, your birthing partner is entitled to free parking during induction and labour.
Is there anything I can do to avoid or help the induction process?
Membrane sweeping involves you having a vaginal examination whereby your midwife or doctor places a finger just inside your cervix and makes a circular, sweeping movement to separate the membranes from the cervix. It can be carried out at home, at an outpatient appointment or in hospital. It can be carried out from your due date. Membrane sweeping appears to be affective in starting labour, however evidence suggests this does not guarantee an unassisted labour and birth.. You may find the internal examination uncomfortable/painful and you may experience some light bleeding similar to a ‘show’ following the procedure. This is because the internal examination involves stretching your cervix.
Eating six date fruits per day (non-diabetic women)
There is some limited evidence to suggest that eating 6 date fruits a day for 4 weeks prior to your due date may increase your chance of spontaneous labour, reduce the length of latent phase of labour, help the cervix to be ripened and therefore shorten the duration of induction. Caution is stressed for women with diabetes or food intolerances and further research is needed in this area. See the following link for more information https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21280989/
For some women nipple stimulation for several days prior to your due date or induction date may help labour to start by itself. This is done for between one and three hours a day for 3 days. It can be done using a breast pump or by hand. https://evidencebasedbirth.com/ebb-125-evidence-on-acupressure-acupuncture-and-breaststimulation/
You may want to look into reflexology and acupressure, which are offered by trained complimentary therapists outside of the NHS, as there is also some evidence that these may help.