What is an Induction?

What is an Induction?

Feb 3, 2018

Most labours begin naturally and although it's usually best to let nature take its course, sometimes the birth process may need a little help in getting started. Labour is ‘induced’ when it is started artificially. You will be offered an induction if the risks of prolonging your pregnancy are more serious than the risks of delivering your baby immediately.

You are likely to be offered an induction for three main reasons:

Your pregnancy has become what is known as postdate. This is a pregnancy that goes beyond 41 weeks and a few days (usually 10 days past your due date) and induction is usually considered to prevent your pregnancy from continuing beyond this time.

Your waters have may have broken but contractions haven't started at all. Most women will go into labour on their own within 24 hours of their waters rupturing; however, if your labour fails to begin within your practitioner’s parameters, you will be offered an induction. The biggest concern with prolonged rupture of the membranes is a concern of higher risks of infection for you or your baby.

Women are offered an induction usually earlier when there is a chronic or acute condition, such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or a host of pregnancy complications such as low amniotic fluid, that can be life-threatening for you or your baby.

There are a number of methods your doctor or midwife may suggest to get your labour started in these instances. Sometimes an induction process may need to be repeated over the course of a few days or you may need to try more than one method before your labour begins. These methods may include a Cervical Ripening Bulb (CRB or Foley catheter), Prostin, Cervidil, Cytotec, Pitocin, or artificially breaking your amniotic sac. Depending on how ‘ripe’ your cervix is for labour will depend on which induction method may be suggested. Cervical ripeness is assessed by what's known as a Bishop Score. You will be given a score based on cervical position, consistency, effacement, dilation and station of your baby in relation to your pelvis.

Bishop Score

Inductions can bring with it a whole host of emotions. You may be scared. You may be excited. Talk with your healthcare provider. You have a choice about accepting an induction and about what methods are used. Take some time to think about what you may prefer to do, ask questions, and know you’ll soon hold your baby in your arms.

We encourage you to learn more about our "What in the World" series. Please see our A to Z index for a whole host of pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting information and terminology.

Loree Siermachesky works as a multi-certified labour and postpartum doula, certified Lamaze childbirth educator, certified breastfeeding counselor, certified placenta encapsulation specialist and a certified car seat technician in Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. She has had the honour of attending over 1400 births in the last 20 years. She is well-known and greatly respected by the medical providers in Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Brooks, Taber, and Calgary. She cares deeply for this profession and even more for her clientele, honoring them in whatever method of birth they choose, or helping them transition to new parenthood as they wish.