An easy guide to labour induction

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Meta title: An easy guide to labour induction | Blog | Ian Chilcott

Meta description: Do you require a labour induction? Private gynaecologist Ian Chilcott explains what happens next. Find out more at

Labour inductions are fairly common, with 1 in 5 UK mummies (just like you!) undergoing some type of artificial induction before they give birth to a beautiful son or daughter. Most inductions are discussed ahead of time between you and your midwife or consultant (depending on whether your pregnancy is midwife or consultant-led), but the unpredictability of labour means this isn’t always the case. There are many types of labour induction, some medicated and others not – so understandably you could be feeling a little overwhelmed with information. Private gynaecologist Ian Chilcott explains the most common forms of labour induction available in the UK.

Why do some women need a labour induction?

You may require a labour induction if:

1. Your baby may be overdue (42+ weeks)
2. Your waters may break early (34+ weeks) but labour did not start
3. You may have an existing medical condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes
4. You have developed a new medical condition such as pregnancy related preeclampsia
5. There is a risk to the baby such as reduced movements or baby has stopped growing
6. There is any other risk to mummy or baby

Types of non-medical labour induction

Most mums agree to a non-medical form of induction before trying a more forceful approach. If the old wives’ tales of eating a hot curry or bathing in clary sage did not succeed in kick-starting your labour, your midwife or consultant may offer you:

1. A membrane sweep, or cervical sweep, where your midwife “sweeps” a finger across your cervical membranes to coax the onset of contractions
2.”Breaking the waters”, where a small instrument is used to break the amniotic sac

Other forms of non-medical induction may be discussed, such as amniotic saline infusion or a cervical ripening balloon, but these are far less common.

Types of medical labour induction

If a non-medical form of induction produced a failed attempt, a medical option will usually be explored depending on the reason or urgency of the induction. You may be offered:

1. A pessary, or prostaglandins. This is given by inserting a gel or tablet into the vagina and helps to soften and thin your cervix in order to prepare it for labour.
2. Oxytocin. This is given via an IV (a needle into the vein on the back of your hand), and it is known to start contractions or to make them stronger or more regular, usually to speed up labour or to progress from early to active labour.

Do you feel that you may require a labour induction? Book a consultation with private gynaecologist Mr Ian Chilcott (MBBS MRCOG) for confidential advice and guidance on what happens next.

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