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Medical Labor Induction Methods: What Are They?

by | March 4, 2019

Know more about medical labor induction methods…

It’s very common for many pregnant women, especially first-time mothers, to watch their due date come and go without so much as a uterine twitch. It can be incredibly frustrating wondering when baby is going to make their appearance.

Medical Labor Induction Methods
By Natalia Deriabina/shutterstock
Medical Labor Induction Methods

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Medical Labor Induction Methods

What Is Induction?

Induction is when doctors try to help labor along using medications or other medical techniques. Labor is generally allowed to take its natural course, although, in some situations or for medical reasons, a health care provider may recommend induction. Here are the medical labor induction methods that your doctor or midwives may use.

Membrane Sweep

A membrane sweep, also known as a cervical sweep, membrane stripping, or a stretch and sweep is a fairly quick procedure where a doctor or midwife inserts a finger into your cervix and with a sweeping motion, separates the membranes that connect the amniotic sac to the uterus. This will release prostaglandins, hormones that help prepare the cervix and lead to contractions. The doctor or midwife will perform a stretch of the cervix by inserting two fingers inside the cervix to open it a little further. This procedure can be uncomfortable, but the pain doesn’t last long.

Foley catheter

A Foley catheter is a tiny balloon inserted into the cervix by a doctor. It is then inflated to about two to three centimeters in diameter. This is used to stretch the cervix. This procedure is generally performed in a hospital or an outpatient clinic. You will be monitored for an hour or so to make sure that there is no vaginal bleeding and the baby’s heart rate is normal. You can’t feel the balloon inside you, but the insertion can be uncomfortable and cause some menstrual-like cramping. Then you can go home for twelve to twenty-four hours before returning to the hospital unless the balloon falls out.


The body produces hormones called prostaglandins; they help ripen the cervix and lead to contractions. There are a few forms of synthetic prostaglandins that a doctor will use to kickstart labor.

The first type is a cervical gel that is placed in the vagina, near the cervix, by your doctor or midwife.

The second type is a prostaglandin called Cervidil, a medication on a tab with a string attached that’s placed close to the cervix.

The third type is a pill called misoprostol, which can be swallowed or placed under the tongue. It may be used if your water has broken and your care provider has concerns about introducing bacteria into the uterus through vaginal exams. Misoprostol has a high risk of causing a lot of intense contractions, so it is administered at the hospital so your baby can be monitored with an external monitor.

Oxytocin (Pitocin)

If your cervix favorable after the prostaglandins, your healthcare provider can give you oxytocin (Pitocin) through an IV. Pitocin will cause contractions. You will be monitored continuously with an external monitor.


An amniotomy is when your doctor or midwife uses an instrument that looks like a crochet hook to break the amniotic sac, allowing the amniotic fluid to leak out. This procedure is usually done once the cervix is favorable, and oxytocin is used.

Did your doctor use any of these medical labor induction methods? Share your experience with us in the comment box below.

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Julie Nealon

Associate Editor, New York USA | Contactable via [email protected]



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