What can be used for labor induction?
Three primary labor induction methods are usage of Pitocin, Cervidil, or by artificial rupture of the membranes.
Benefits and risks of Pitocin:
Possible risks of Pitocin include fetal heart abnormalities, low APGAR scores, neonatal jaundice, neonatal retinal hemorrhage, permanent central nervous system or brain damage, or fetal death. For these reasons it is imperative that usage and dosage guidelines be followed carefully.
The benefit is that it is effective at bringing on contractions.
Benefits and risks of Cervidil:
Cervidil’s possible risks include infection, uterine rupture, and constant monitoring of baby’s heart rate.
The benefit is that it helps to ripen the cervix and will hopefully help the mom to avoid a cesarean.
Benefits and risks of artificial rupture of membranes:
The risks include baby turning breach if the head is not yet engaged, higher risk of umbilical cord prolapse, and higher risk of infection.
The benefits include possibly starting labor by bringing on contractions, helping to shorten labor, and it is a good way to determine if the baby has passed meconium.
Another form of AROM is stripping the membranes. This procedure can be done in the office before labor has started or after labor has started. This is done by your provider inserting a gloved finger into the cervix and sweeping along the inside disconnecting your bag of waters from the lower part of your uterus. By doing this it signals to your body to release a hormone called prostaglandins. This hormone is used to bring on contractions.
The risks involved is premature rupture of membranes (water breaks), pain, infection, irritable uterus, bleeding, the procedure not working, and needing additional medical interventions.
The benefits is a gentle form of induction and going into labor prior to 42 weeks.
When a primary care provider opts to use one of these labor induction methods, they will keep an eye out for any cervical changes. They want to see whether the body is taking over moving towards active labor on its own or if they need to continue to supplement the body’s natural physiological response either by stimulating contractions or by creating an environment to encourage the body to take over.
The cervical changes they are looking for is thinning out, softening, and dilation.
Typical early labor cervical changes include thinning out, softening, and dilating to 4 centimeters. Active labor cervical changes include dilating to 6-10 centimeters. Transitional labor cervical changes include 100% thinned out, 10+ centimeters dilated.
Your care provider will check your progress throughout the process to see if your cervix is dilating.
If you have any additional questions, ask your care provider as they will have additional insight.