Induction of Labour

Induction of labour (IOL) is labour that is planned in advance, usually after 37 weeks of pregnancy. You may be induced for a number of medical reasons or just because it's your preferred choice.

We have used tried and tested methods for making your cervix ready for labour but our preferred method is to have a foley catheter inserted the day before induction.

What is a Foley catheter?
During an internal examination, a thin soft rubber tube called a Foley catheter is put through the neck of the womb. The tip of the catheter lies between the neck of the womb and membranes around the baby’s head.  We then put some sterile water through the catheter to blow up a small balloon at the tip. The bottom end of the tube is attached to your thigh and you are free to walk around as normal. Having the tube inserted is like having a smear test, we look inside the vagina to see the neck of the womb.

Does it hurt?
It does not hurt but may feel a little uncomfortable.

How long does the tube stay in for?
The catheter normally falls out after 6 to 12 hours, but sometimes stays in up to 18 hours. When the catheter falls out we then know that the neck of the womb has been opened.  If the catheter remains in on the day of admission it will be removed so the induction can begin. We can then either break your waters and/or start the drip to make your womb contract.

Having your waters broken  (Artificial Rupture of Membranes or ARM)
During this examination a thin plastic crochet hook is passed through the neck of the womb until it reaches the bag of water by the baby’s head. The bag is then broken with the hook.  The average time to delivery is 8 to 12 hours.   It may be sooner than this if you have already had a baby.

Having your waters broken can be a little uncomfortable but shouldn’t hurt.

Will I need a drip?
You will be given a couple of hours to walk about. If labour does not start, we will offer you the drip. In special cases we sometimes start the drip before we break your waters.

What is in the drip?
This is a mild saline fluid with a drug in it. The drug is called Syntocinon. Your body normally produces a natural form of this drug during your birth process to start contractions.

Will the drip cause my baby any harm?
The drip is increased very slowly. Very occasionally, the drip causes the contractions to be too strong and may need to be slowed down or stopped. This is why it is important to keep a constant check on the baby’s heart with the trace machine. This can be taken off now and again so you can walk around or go to the toilet.

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