Induction is the name given for starting off your labour artificially. It is usually recommended in the following situations:
- Because your pregnancy has gone beyond 40+12 weeks
- Your waters have broken but the labour has not started
- For a variety of other rarer reasons that would benefit you or your baby's health
This can be a time of mixed emotions for most parents. Encouraging labour to start can be a lengthy, exhausting and frustrating experience combined with the excitement of meeting your baby.
Because everyone is different it is difficult to predict how long it will take for labour to start. Being in hospital throughout the process may mean that the birth is different than you had planned. It is essential to discuss your thoughts with your partner and midwife.
You may be offered a membrane sweep. For first time mums this is a 40 weeks and again at 41 weeks. If this is your second baby a sweep is offered at 41 weeks.
A membrane sweep involves a vaginal examination. If the midwife or doctor can reach the cervix, she /he will place a finger inside the cervix and make circular, or sweeping movements. They will try and separate the membranes of the amniotic sac, containing the baby, from your cervix.
The sweep helps to release natural hormones, 'prostaglandins' that may stimulate contractions.
You may experience discomfort while this is being done and it can cause the mucus plug ('show') to come away. If you find the procedure too uncomfortable ask the midwife or doctor to stop.
Afterwards you might experience:
- mild or occasionally strong pain
- slight bleeding
- cramps or irregular contractions.
It's OK to take a mild pain killer, like Paracetamol and have a warm bath if you are in pain. If your membranes rupture, the pain is bad or you have fresh, red bleeding, contact your midwife or maternity unit.