Labor Induction

The health of you and your baby is important to us, so we want to make sure you have a safe labor and delivery.

If you're pregnant and your labor does not begin on its own, your doctor can use medicines to start your labor to help you deliver your baby vaginally. This is called labor induction.

Also see Pregnancy & Birth Care

Why Would I Get Induced?

The most common reason for inducing labor is that your pregnancy has gone two weeks or more past your due date. When this happens, your baby may start to get too big and not able to get enough nourishment from inside your body.

Your doctor may also recommend induction if:

  • You have high blood pressure or diabetes
  • Your water breaks, but you aren't having contractions
  • You have an infection in your uterus
  • There isn't enough amniotic fluid around your baby

How Is Labor Induced?

There are several ways to induce labor. Toward the end of your pregnancy, your cervix — the opening to your uterus — begins to soften and may even open up a little. If your doctor doesn't see these changes happening, they may administer a medication vaginally to start the process.

Your doctor may also break your water by using a finger to separate your cervix from the membranes that surround your baby's head. This often starts labor. 

During labor, your doctor will monitor you closely and, when you're ready, will give you a medicine called Pitocin (a synthetic form of oxytocin) to start your contractions. This will help your contractions become stronger and come at regular intervals.

How Long Will My Induction Take?

It can take up to two or three days to induce labor, but it usually takes less time. It may take more time if you're being induced before you're full-term or if it's your first baby. 

Medications that induce labor can produce strong contractions and might upset your stomach, so it's recommended that you do not eat much before coming to the hospital for your induction.

In most cases, labor induction goes well and you can deliver your baby vaginally. Be sure to tell your doctor if you need help with the pain. See Pain Medications for Labor.