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Everything You Need To Know About Inducing Labour and Pitocin Induction

Table of Contents

Induce Labor

Table of Contents

Generally, the practitioners aim to carry pregnancies to term, or in other words, until the 39th week of pregnancy. This also means that there is no need for inducing electively until then. However, there are cases or situations that may arise where labor just needs a little nudge to get cracking. This is where the steps below will help you with inducing labor for a healthy and safe birth. But why is it needed? Read below to understand better.

What does labor induction mean and why does a health care provider induce it ?

In cases where the health of the baby or the mother is at risk or if your pregnancy is at its post-term or as perhaps reached 39 weeks or the 42nd week and you’re close to the due date, your health care provider will determine the need to induce labor contraction via medications or other methods. Here are a few reasons why the health care provider might induce labor:

1) Your pregnancy is overdue

 In cases of absence of any movement in the uterus around the 42nd week, the doctor may opt for inducing labor for the betterment of the health of both, the mother and baby.

2) There might be a presence of a complication

In conditions where women suffer from like preeclampsia, diabetes, gestational diabetes, or problems with the placenta or with low levels of amniotic fluid, there is an added danger of continuing pregnancy.

3) There is a rupture in the membranes

If women do not complain of labor even after the water has broken within 24 hours. The doctor will induce labor.

4) The baby isn’t thriving

If the baby is mature enough and can be delivered. The practitioner would go ahead with labor induction in the hospital or birthing center.

Inducing labor - How does it work?

The steps below read how you are induced, however, you might not do through them all. 

  • Cervical Ripening

In general cases, the cervix is said to open on its own once ready for labor. However, if there is no sign of the cervix dilating and effacing that allows the baby to move out of the uterus and enter the birth canal, the doctor would need to get the ripening rolling.

This is done by applying a hormone prostaglandin (either a gel or a vaginal suppository) to your cervix. In some time, the cervix will be checked to know if you’re ready for labor and contractions. 

Just in case the prostaglandin is ripening the cervix but the contractions haven’t started, the process continues. Also, if in the past you have had a C-section or uterine surgery, you won’t be given prostaglandin. Here, the doctor will use a mechanical agent instead, to ripen the cervix like a catheter. 

  • Membrane stripping

If the amniotic sac in the woman is still intact, the doctor may get labor by swiping their finger across the membranes connecting the amniotic sac. This helps the uterus release prostaglandin just like when labor and delivery take place naturally. It causes the cervix to soften and the contractions to begin. The process allows water breaking and isn’t always pain-free. 

  • Rupturing the membrane

The water isn’t broken if the cervix has already begun to dilate and efface on its own. In this case, the doctor might jump-start the contractions via the artificial rupturing of the membranes to avoid any health problems. For a better understanding, the doctor will perhaps break the water manually through an instrument. The process will look a bit uncomfortable but shouldn’t be painful and low-risk. 

  • Pitocin

If neither of the processes has successfully got regular contractions within a couple of hours, the doctor would provide you with Pitocin. It is a synthetic form of the natural hormone oxytocin through an IV to induce labor that usually starts about 30 minutes later.  

Top 8 natural ways to induce labor

Most of the processes above are anecdotal with no solid evidence. Therefore, consider consulting the doctor before attempting either. He/she/they will let you know if it’s safe to try keeping in mind your pregnancy. 

  • Exercise

Exercise could include anything that helps increase the heart rate, it may include a simple walk. Even if the method doesn’t work, it is a good way to relieve stress, keeping the body strong. 

  • Sex

Theoretically, having sex, especially while an orgasm the body releases oxytocin that helps with contractions. There are prostaglandin hormones in the semen that help ripen the cervix. Do not work, having sex in the final weeks of pregnancy is completely safe, but you shouldn’t have sex after the water has broken as it may then risk an infection. 

  • Nipple stimulation

Stimulating nipples may cause your uterus to contract which may in return bring labor. It also stimulates the production of oxytocin that causes the uterus to contract and the breast to eject milk.

Tip – If women breastfeed the baby right after delivery, the same stimulation takes place that helps the uterus to shrink back to its original size. Stimulating your nipples yourself, by your partner, or using a pump can be an effective way to:

  • Induce and augment labor
  • Avoid a medical induction of labor
  • Reduce the rates of postpartum hemorrhage
  • Acupuncture

This method has been used by women for thousands of years. According to Chinese medicine, acupuncture balances the vital energy in the body. l and also stimulate the changes in the hormones or the nervous system. However, make sure the administration is only done by a licensed acupuncturist.

  • Acupressure

Most practitioners believe acupressure helps start labor. But even before you apply for acupressure it is of utmost importance to have clear and proper instruction only from trained acupressure professionals. Also, irrespective of whether it induces labor or not, it can help alleviate pain and discomfort during labor.

  • Castor oil

Consuming only a little, about 1–2 ounces which equals 29.57–59.14 ml, helps stimulate the releases of prostaglandin that help ripen the cervix and induce labor. Make sure it is done under the supervision of a doctor and avoid drinking too much.

  • Dates

Studies have shown that eating dates during the final weeks of pregnancy helps increases the ripening of the cervical and cervical dilation and also decreases the need for Pitocin while in labor. 

  • Red raspberry leaf tea

The red raspberry leaf tea tones and strengthens the uterus while preparing for labor. It also helps you stay hydrated.

Disclaimer: Except for exercise and sex, none of the above-mentioned are endorsed by medical professionals or studies.

What happens if you wait for the baby until the 40th week of childbirth?

There are plenty of perks of waiting till the due date until your body naturally decides to go into labor, even if it is the 40th week. 

Expecting moms who are not induced tend to recover faster compared to those who weren’t which also means going home sooner. And, any baby born after a full-term pregnancy experience the following benefits that means: 

  1. More time to build muscle and strength
  2. Reduces the risk of low blood sugar, infection, and jaundice
  3. Improved breathing
  4. Better feeding 
  5. Brain development grows a third of its size between the 35th and 40th week

Note – Rest in these times is crucial.

That’s all pals! This is all about everything you would need to know about inducing labor. While you’re preparing for your D-Day, are you sure you have packed everything required? You might as well just have a quick checklist to be double-sure. Don’t worry, Parenthood bliss has prepared a link for you to go through. Click here and start right away!

To Conclude

Before trying any method to help induce labor, consult your doctor about any risks that may occur or complications. Most of these methods are included in the folklore, popular amongst expecting moms with little scientific evidence supporting their efficacy. However, the best way is to let the baby set their own birth date, even if it means waiting for a few weeks more.

Induce labor FAQs

1) What happens when labor induction is performed ?

When the expecting mother gets induced with labor the cervix softens and begins to open up. While the cervix starts to open, the contractions begin, and the water breaks. The process of inducing, induction of labor, or induced labor is an artificial process. This is the reason the method is perhaps mechanical in nature, as the cervix starts to open and the water breaks down. The other way is to take the help of medicines to start contractions.

2) When labor is induced, does it cause longer labor ?

One of the processes of inducing labor is to use Pitocin. The use of Pitocin causes contractions that are much stronger and are caused at their peak compared to the contractions that occur naturally. All of this boils down to the labor that is perhaps more difficult to manage. This is why it is recommended to wait for the baby to set rather than inducing labor as it also helps in the health of the baby to fully develop. Even if it takes up to 40-42 weeks, it's ok. Also, a word of caution always consults your doctor before opting for inducing labor.

3) Can you eat when labor is induced ?

Amongst the many practitioners, most doctors often refuse to consume anything before the labor contractions begin. This is why it is recommended, even if you are hungry to consume light food. All of this is done to avoid your washroom trips concerning the emergency of the situation while suffering from labor and labor contractions. Most doctors recommend consuming a bowl of ol' porcelain before the birthing center visit.

4) How long does it take for a baby to be born after being labor induced ?

There are various options available for inducing labor. In either case, a combination of treatments might be required and it depends on each individual based on different criteria. The time period it takes for the baby to be born post inducing labor might range from a few hours to as long as 2 to 3 days. This depends on how your body responds to the inducing of labor. Also, in cases of first pregnancy or if it is less than 37 weeks of pregnancy, it is likely to take much more longer.

Reviewed By:

Esha Chainani - Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

Esha Chainani - Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

Dr Esha Chainani is an Obstetrician, Gynaecologist and laparoscopic surgeon practicing in Mumbai. She aims to break the stigma around women’s health by advocating an inclusive and open practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. Esha is the author of several internationally published research papers and health articles in the media like the Swaddle. She founded Premaa, a non profit to reduce maternal morbidity and eventual maternal mortality by providing lower income pregnant women living in urban areas cell phone access through an app, to medically correct information proven to influence the outcomes of both mother and child. Her app Premaa pregnancy also has an entire section about contraception as well for a whole gamut of reproductive health. She has been on the panel for multiple health sessions including with the UN, USAID, BMC, gender at work and multiple non profit organisations. She’s also on the advisory panel of the South Indian medical students association. She is also an editor at the MAR Journal of Gynaecology. She advocates for accessible healthcare through her instagram account as well posting about reproductive health, mental health and sexual health.

On behalf of the editorial team at Parenthoodbliss, we follow strict reporting guidelines and only use credible sources, along with peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and highly respected health organizations. To learn about how we maintain content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

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