Inducing labour – do you know all the facts?


Being induced is quite common and one that is started artificially, in fact it’s pretty common for it to happen with 1 in 5 labours are induced in the UK. There’s 3 main reasons why you can get induced:

  1. Your baby is overdue
  2. Your waters may have broken but no labour has started
  3. There is a risk to you and your baby

If your baby is overdue, your doctor will discuss with you the different measures they could take to get you ready for your baby’s arrival which includes being induced. Some women prefer not to be induced and if that’s something you’d like to follow; your doctor will make you attend weekly scans and appointments until your baby arrives.

If your waters have broken before labour has started your midwife might suggest an induction to decrease the chance of your baby getting an infection.

If there is a risk to you or your baby due to a health condition such as high blood pressure, Obstetric Cholestasis or because your baby isn’t growing properly, your doctor will plan your induction in advance. All the advantages and disadvantages of what happens next will be discussed with a doctor, consultant and midwife.

Any questions that you have you’ll have the opportunity to discuss them in detail with your healthcare professionals. Depending on the severity of the case, it is your choice whether you want to have your labour induced but if your health is at risk, you may need to consider what’s best for both you and your baby.

What happens with an induction?


Your midwife will put a gel or pessary into your vagina which contains a drug called Prostaglandin that helps soften and open the cervix which triggers labour contractions. This can take a while depending on how your body reacts. Prostaglandin is a hormone-like substance that causes your cervix to ripen, and which may stimulate contractions. Before using it, your baby’s heartbeat needs to be continuously monitored for 30 minutes and your Bishop score assessed.

Is it painful?

I’ve not been through it (as I write this, I don’t know what’s in store for me and her over the next few weeks till she arrives) but they say that the process isn’t painful though it can make you feel a little uncomfortable. The process till labour can take a while, how long depends on how your body reacts to being induced and how ready your little one is prepared to want to come out.


Once the process is started you and your baby will be monitored and there will be a lot of waiting around for drugs to kick in and for labour to start. In this instance it’s best to come prepared, bring a book with you, iPod, magazines, laptop, portable DVD player, games, anything that can help pass the time and keep you entertained. The bag you have already packed for your hospital bag will be taken with you as the original hospital bag you packed for labour- just with a few extra’s in it.

If you are overdue and want to get your labour started without having an induction, here are a few things you can try:


Yes you read that right. Even if your baby is a mover and shaker and sex may have previously been a complete no no, sex does help move the whole process along. Your partner’s semen contains natural prostaglandins that may stimulate labour. It is safe so don’t worry about anything and also you still wont touch your baby’s head when it’s happening – get that thought out of your head right now! Please note: If your waters have already broke, avoid having sex as this increases the chance your baby gets an infection. 


If, like me you feel your baby’s head constantly pressing down on your cervix from the inside, it can get uncomfortable, but walking helps release oxytocin, a hormone that causes contractions. Being upright also encourages your baby to move down on to your cervix.

  • It can help you feel more comfortable and distract you from certain surroundings
  • Helps alleviate anxiety
  • Helps pass the time
  • Keeps your muscles simulated and prepare your body for the contractions to come



Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles in areas or points of your body. It’s thought the needles stimulate the energy within your body to act on a specific organ function or system.

Nipple Stimulation

When your nipples are stimulated, your body produces Oxytocin – the same hormone that causes contractions in labour. It might not work from the get go and you might have to put a bit of work into it but once started, it can prove effective.

Spicy Food like a Curry

Thankfully this is an area that I can avoid due to my dislike of spicy food and my body rejecting it of late, but some mums swear by having a hot spicy curry to kick off the labour.


If you’re a fruit lover like me, the benefits of having something deliciously yummy and healthy to stimulate labour is a bonus. And there’s got to be something physically wrong with you to not like pineapple. Pineapple contains an enzyme called Bromelain that could bring on labour and it’s not the only fruit that could do it either, kiwi’s, mangoes and papaya supposedly helps too). Try not to go overboard with this fruit though, you really really will want to avoid the runs before your baby arrives!


Are there any other tips that I’m missing that could be added to the list?

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