What is induced labour?
Your labour is described as “induced” when it’s started artificially. You’ll be offered an induction of labour if your doctor thinks that it is safer for your baby to be born sooner rather than continuing with your pregnancy.
Though most labours begin naturally, and letting nature take its course is usually best, you may need a little help to get started.
Why might my labour need to be induced?
You’re likely to be offered an induction if:
- Your pregnancy has gone beyond 41 weeks, though the exact timing may depend on your hospital’s policy. Being overdue is the most common reason for induction.
- Your waters have broken, but labour hasn’t started. If you don’t go into labour within a day or so, there is an increased risk that you or your baby could develop an infection. So you’ll be offered an induction about 24 hours after your waters break.
- You have diabetes, which means there is a small risk that your baby will be larger than normal. If your baby is growing as expected, your doctor will recommend you have an induction after 38 weeks of pregnancy. If there are signs that your baby is big, your doctor may recommend a caesarean as the best option for you.
- You have a chronic or acute condition, such as pre-eclampsia or kidney disease, that threatens your wellbeing, or the health of your baby.
- You are 40 years of age or older, which can carry a higher risk of stillbirth. Being induced at 39 weeks to 40 weeks of pregnancy may reduce the risk, particularly if you have other complications.
You may want your labour to be induced for personal reasons, for example if your partner would otherwise miss the birth. Or you may want an induction because you’re worried about pregnancy complications, or if you’ve previously had a baby who was stillborn. What your doctor and midwife advise will be based on your individual circumstances, as well as checks to see if your body is ready for labour.
There should be time to ask questions, and time to talk to your partner, so that you come to a decision that feels right for you. Induction interventions are “offered” to you, which means that you can refuse if you want to, and your midwife or doctor should respect your decision.
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