Induction or Augmentation of Labour

Induction or Augmentation of Labour

Induction of labour is the process of stimulating labour contractions before labour commences naturally. Often this is done when a pregnant woman is overdue.

Augmentation of labour is the process of stimulating labour contractions during labour, often when contractions have started but are weak, irregular or have stopped entirely.

There are different ways of inducing labour.

Labour can be induced in a number of ways:

  • A tablet or gel can be inserted in the vagina and this can encourage contractions to start and the cervix to soften.
  • A medication can also be given by an IV drip into a vein and this can increase the speed of labour.

Labour may be induced for a number of reasons including when:

  • A pregnant woman is post-term;
  • There is an infection in the womb, known as chorioamnionitis;
  • The membranes around baby have ruptured and labour has not started;
  • Baby is not growing as expected;
  • A pregnant woman has high blood pressure and there are signs that this is affecting her health or the wellbeing of the baby.

In these circumstances, the pregnant woman and baby may be at risk if baby is not delivered promptly. The risks of the induction of labour should be discussed with the pregnant woman so that a joint decision can be made about the delivery.

There are well-known and potentially catastrophic risks associated with inducing or augmenting labour with medication. For this reason, it is important to only proceed with inducing or augmenting labour in safe and appropriate circumstances and to carefully monitor the wellbeing of the unborn baby and the pregnant woman to watch for early warning signs of risks.

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