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Induced labour

Gather the facts, make your choices and prepare for the arrival of your new baby

Pregnant woman

Making the decision that’s right for you

In certain situations, your doctor or midwife may recommend an induced labour. Whether or not to be induced is always your choice.1 This means it’s very important to find out all the facts and ask your doctor or midwife lots of questions.

The more you know now, the better prepared and more confident you can be with any decision making later in your pregnancy.

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How common is induced labour?

40 weeks

is the length of the average pregnancy2

Up to

1 in 4

births are induced at term in
high-income countries3


of pregnancies that reach 41 weeks or more may be

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What is an induced labour?

An induced labour means that it has been started artificially. This may be with the use of drugs, mechanical devices, or both.1

The aim of an induction is to allow you to have a vaginal birth sooner than if you waited for your labour to begin on its own. This is done by softening your cervix ready for labour and getting your contractions started.

Most women will have a vaginal birth whether they choose to be induced or to wait.2

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You may be offered an induction for one of
these reasons:1,3,4


If labour hasn’t started on its
own by 41 weeks of gestation

break early

If your waters break
before labour starts

Health risk

If you have a specific
condition or complication

Pregnant asian woman
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When the due date arrives, but your baby hasn’t...

If your due date passes, your doctor or midwife may recommend that you are booked in for an induction.3 You will only be recommended an induction if your doctor or midwife think that the expected benefits for you and your baby outweigh the possible risks.1

If you choose to wait, you will be offered increased monitoring. This is because, although most babies remain healthy, in some cases post-term pregnancy may be associated with higher risks.2

This is your decision, but you should be given lots of information from your doctor or midwife about the options you have.

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What happens during the induction process?

Before an induction you may be offered a membrane sweep1,5. This is where your doctor or midwife sweeps their finger internally around your cervix to trigger the start of your labour. If this doesn’t work, you may then be offered a drug or the use of a mechanical device to start the induction process.1

Once the induction process begins, it can take a few hours or a few days for labour to start. Your doctor or midwife may need to use several methods. Your contractions and your baby’s heart rate will be monitored. To help keep your contractions going, you may be offered a hormone through a drip.5

Pregnant family
Pregnant asian woman
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The more questions you ask, the more reassured you will feel

Here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or midwife when discussing whether an induced labour is right for you and your baby:

  • What are my options and what are their risks and benefits?
  • Can my partner stay with me?
  • What should I bring with me?
  • Will I be able to go home?
  • How long will it take before labour starts?
  • How will I be monitored and how often?
  • What pain relief will I be offered?
  • What happens if the induction doesn’t work?
  • Can I change my mind?
  • Could my decision have an impact on future pregnancies?
  • Will I be able to keep moving/walking?
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Tips when going in for an induction

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Bring entertainment
and food

Load up your laptop with music and movies (don’t forget the charger), pack books or knitting, stock up on snacks and coins for vending machines…anything to pass the time and keep your energy levels up

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Keep asking your doctor or midwife questions to help put your mind at ease…they can support you with your choices at every stage of the induction process

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Put on your comfiest clothes, wear an eye mask, breathe deeply, sit on your birthing ball…use any techniques you’ve learnt to stay calm and in control in this final stage of your pregnancy

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...this is your pregnancy so you can choose what is right for you and your baby. However your baby is delivered, the most important thing is for you both to be healthy. Your doctor or midwife will be there to support you every step of the way.