What is an induction?

Labour will begin when your baby releases the hormone oxytocin, which triggers your uterus to start to contract. If this doesn't happen naturally then an induction is done to artificially stimulate your body to make labour start.

Before considering a medical induction, there are some natural methods that might encourage your body to go into labour naturally including:

  • Acupuncture
  • Homeopathy
  • Nipple stimulation or having sex
  • Osteopathy, chiropractic, massage or reflexology
  • Addressing and working through any fears or anxieties you have about labour or parenting that might be creating a psychological block around childbirth.

There are a number of medical reasons that can also result in an induction:

  • You're past your due date.
  • Your baby is not thriving or growing.
  • You have preeclampsia (a condition that develops in pregnant women, it is marked by high blood pressure and presence of proteins in urine).
  • It's been 12 to 24 hours since your waters have broken.
  • Your placenta is deteriorating.
  • Your amniotic fluid level is very low.

Prostaglandin Gel

Prostaglandin gel contains the prostaglandin hormone that is applied to your cervix to encourage your cervix to soften and open up. You may respond immediately to this gel or it can take up to 18 hours for the gel to take effect and initiate labour.

Stretch and sweep

A stretch and sweep is when the lower segment of the membranes of your amniotic sac are separated from the uterus. The aim is to activate the prostaglandin hormone in your cervix to help soften and ripen the cervix and trigger contractions. This is done during an internal vaginal examination.

Breaking your waters

Breaking your waters is when the sac that is holding your baby and the amniotic fluid is punctured. A thin medical instrument with a hook is inserted into your vagina through your open cervix and is used to break the membranes.


Syntocin is a synthetic hormone that makes the uterus contract. It is an artificial form of oxytocin. It is administered by an intravenous drip (IV). The Syntocin drip can make your contractions intense, irregular and therefore difficult to handle. An induction or augmentation (see below), requires continuous fetal monitoring preventing you from being mobile and active during labor. Once on a drip, you no longer generate all the natural hormones to assist you with natural pain management and you may need pain relief. Your baby will also have to be monitored because an induction is not a natural process and there is a higher likelihood of complications arising.


Augmentation otherwise known as accelerating labour, is performed if your labour has started naturally and if your contractions are not increasing in intensity. Augmentation or accelerating labor can be done in two ways:

  1. Manually breaking your waters to help accelerate the labour.
  2. Syntocin can be administered through an intravenous drip to speed up the labour.

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