Labor induction is very common in hospitals, as is Augmenting a labor that has already started. But there are more options than just Pitocin, the artificial version of the hormone oxytocin which helps produce labor contractions. Are you in your third trimester of pregnancy, and already close to your due date? Or perhaps your due date has already been and gone? Here are some methods doctors and midwives can use to induce labor.
- Pitocin. Yes, we've mentioned it already. Pitocin for labor induction is so popular that it deserves the top spot on this list. Pitocin almost always succeeds in bringing on contractions, it can be used to speed up stalled or slow labors, and is also useful for women who have started hemorrhaging after giving birth. Pitocin does have side effects, and should not be used as a routine treatment.
- Sweeping membranes. Your bag of waters has an outer lining, which are your membranes. If you are already close to having a baby, your doctor or midwife may recommend a sweep of these membranes. That means detaching them from your uterus, something that can induce labor. The membranes are capable of reattaching if you were not ready for labor after all. Therefore, this is perhaps the least invasive medical induction method.
- Artificial rupture of membranes. This is more commonly known as "breaking the bag of waters". The waters can break naturally, but a doctor can also do it for you (with an amniohook, an instrument that looks like a crochet needle). Rupturing membranes often gets labor going, but if it does not, you will still need Pitocin. That is because the rupture of membranes without labor increase the risk of a uterine infection, which can be very risky for your baby and you.
- Cytotec. This is another drug that can be used to induce labor. Its use is fairly wide-spread in many hospitals across the United States. But, the Food and Drug Administration did not approve Cytotec (which is also an abortion drug) for labor induction. The use of Cytotec for labor induction is off-label.