The Induction Question

How is induction performed?
Before induction, the cervix should be assessed for position, effacement, dilatation and consistency. If the cervix is thin, soft, anterior and a bit dilated and the baby's head is engaged, induction is often successful. However, if the cervix is not ripe '- that is, if it's long, thick and closed '- induction is often lengthy and difficult and may involve several days of cervical ripening.

Although there are many "home remedies" for induction, it's best to always seek your care provider's opinion and recommendations before attempting anything that may stimulate labor. Even something that seems benign can cause strong uterine contractions, which may disrupt blood flow to the baby. If a mother has had a previous cesarean birth, none of these strategies should be employed at home.

Among the non-pharmaceutical techniques are nipple rolling, administration of enemas and consumption of castor oil. Nipple stimulation and bowel activity cause release of the body's own prostaglandin and oxytocin. It is unlikely that these techniques will be successful, however, unless the cervix and the baby are ready.

Attempts to induce labor with herbal remedies such as blue or black cohosh or pennyroyal should never be attempted. Herbs vary in concentration and, once ingested, the result cannot be stopped. Reports of uterine rupture and intrauterine fetal stroke have been cited. Neonatal heart irregularities have also been reported.

While these home remedies are often swapped among pregnant women, you should keep in mind that induction should be carried out only in a hospital or birthing center with intravenous fluids and electronic fetal monitoring available.

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