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This section will help you to understand induction of labour and what it could mean to you. Please read it carefully so that if you need to have labour induced, you will understand what is happening.
It is also important to remember that each woman is unique, so there will be times when it is necessary to depart from the usual procedures.
Spontaneous labour -- how it happens
While you are pregnant the cervix (neck of the womb) is firm and closed. As you approach the start of labour (spontaneous) your body produces natural prostaglandins (hormones) which help to soften the cervix. Tightenings of your uterus (womb) will help to shorten the cervix. By the time you start having painful regular contractions (pains), the cervix is ready to start dilating (opening up).
Induced labour - how it happens
If your cervix is favourable (soft and beginning to open) |I will break your waters or membranes by a simple internal examination. The membranes(like your toe nails!) have no pain receptors and so can be broken without fear of it hurting.
If the cervix is not ripe I will ask you to come into hospital the night before to enable cervical ripening. You will be given a prostaglandin pessary into the vagina at 10pm and again at 6am. This will start working on the cervix to make it favourable to start labour.
Monitoring contractions and the baby’s heart rate
A monitor will be used to record the baby’s heart rate and how it reacts to your contractions.
Complications of an induced labour
1. If the cervix is very unfavourable it may take repeated doses of prostaglandin gel vaginally to ripen it (make it favourable). As there is a limit to the amount of gel which can be used in one day, you may need to rest in the ward overnight and have more the following morning.
2. A small number of women have a “failed induction”, when in spite of using all the drugs, labour does not become established or progress. A caesarean section may then be required.
3. Labour is usually more painful when it is induced, and therefore you may need more pain relief. If however you have elected for an epidural this becomes unimportant.
4. If you are under 39 week your baby has a small risk of developing temporary breathing problems which may result in it having to be admitted to the special care baby unit.
How do you prepare for induction of labour?
When the decision to induce labour is taken, I will give you a date to come into hospital. As far as possible, every effort will be made to induce you early on that day, however occasionally it is necessary to delay the procedure until later in the day. This only happens if your cervix needs further ripening or when the delivery suite is so busy that it would be unsafe to take non urgent cases. The main consideration must always be the safety of mothers and their babies.
You should eat normally on the day prior to admission. Only have a cup of tea and one slice of toast on the morning of your labour. Unless you are told otherwise you should come to the hospital for 7-7.30 pm. If you are unable to come into hospital, or will be late, please contact the sister in delivery suite on Belfast 028 90550404
Refreshments are available for your partner from the snack machines on the ground floor of the maternity unit and from the OASIS restaurant between 7.00am and 7.00pm (follow the yellow signs).
Please bring with you any items you will need for your stay. (See what to bring) Do not bring large amounts of cash or anything of great value
Please tell your family and friends that visiting is restricted while you are in the Delivery Suite. This is to ensure the security of mothers and their babies. Also, we only issue information with your consent.
Pack your bag at 34 weeks or before
Night-dresses (front opening)
FOR BIRTHING PARTNER
Change for phone
BAG FOR LABOUR
Old nightdress / t-shirt
Personal Stereo / headphones / tapes
Please send unnecessary clothing & suitcases, etc home after admission.
©2003 - 2011 Dr Paul Fogarty