What you need to know about inducing labour – Patient

Induction is a process of artificially kickstarting labour, most commonly used if your baby is overdue. According to the NHS, one in every five labours in the UK are induced, so here’s what you need to know if you’re offered induction to get the birth moving along.

Why induction might be offered

All women who haven’t spontaneously gone into labour by 42 weeks of pregnancy will be offered induction. Besides the fact you’re likely to be fairly fed up by that stage, there’s also an increased risk of stillbirth or other complications for the baby which increases the longer past your due date you are.

“The main reason pregnancy after 42 weeks can be problematic is that it’s a bit more common that the placenta starts to run down, and may not give the baby as much food and oxygen as it needs,” explains Dr Pat O’Brien, a consultant obstetrician and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). “Nothing changes dramatically the minute you hit 42 weeks; it just becomes significantly more common after that stage. And of course the baby is also getting bigger and bigger,” he adds.

Other reasons why induction might be offered include if your waters break early – more than 24 hours before labour starts – or if there are health concerns about either the mother or the baby.

“There is a long list of reasons in the mother and reasons in the baby for why you might want the pregnancy to come to an end: if a baby is getting very big, or the opposite, if it’s not growing very well; if the mother has high blood pressure, which in pregnancy can lead to pre-eclampsia; or if the mother has diabetes,” O’Brien says.

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