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4 reasons your obstetrician might induce labour

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Most pregnancies progress normally and end with a healthy baby. Occasionally, an obstetrician must induce a pregnant woman; this means the doctor does something to stimulate labour. Here are four reasons a labour induction may be ordered:

1. Your baby is overdue

A normal pregnancy is 40 weeks. If a woman goes more than two weeks past her due date, problems can arise. The baby will continue to grow and may make a natural childbirth more difficult.  The obstetrician may then need to deliver the baby by Caesarean birth.

The woman may also develop high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, separation of the placenta from the uterus and reduced amniotic fluid.

2. Your water has broken early

If the amniotic sac breaks prematurely but labour doesn't start on its own, the woman is at increased risk of a uterine infection and the baby may become distressed. If the foetus has developed sufficiently, the obstetrician will induce labour.

3. Your labour is not progressing

A woman's amniotic sac may break at 40 weeks but, for whatever reason, labour does not always begin as expected. Or, labour may start but rather than continue, it stalls. This is usually because the contractions are not strong enough to dilate the cervix. Many obstetricians recommend the woman get up and walk to see if the contractions strengthen.

Some doctors recommend the woman stimulate her nipples. Rubbing and pinching the nipples causes the body to release oxytocin, a hormone which helps to stimulate labour, among other things.

If neither of these methods trigger labour to progress and the cervix to dilate more, the obstetrician may place a prostaglandin suppository in the vagina. This will usually increase the severity of the contractions, which will in turn cause the cervix to dilate.

Another method of labour induction when labour is not progressing is manually rupturing the amniotic sac, if it hasn't already ruptured on its own. The obstetrician inserts a small plastic hook into the vagina and through the cervix to reach the amniotic sac and rip the amniotic sac open. This will stimulate the body to produce prostaglandin. An obstetrician may also decide to administer the chemical Pitocin intravenously. This almost always stimulates a stalled labour and strengthens contractions.

4. You live far from hospital

If you live a considerable distance from medical facilities, your obstetrician may decide to induce you at 39 weeks or whenever he or she feels your body is close to delivery.

For more information, contact an obstetrician in your area today.