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Kawenga whakawhānau | Induction of labour

Induction of labour is the process of using drugs or other methods to encourage labour to start artificially rather than waiting for labour to start naturally. 

You will be able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of being induced with your midwife and a doctor ahead of time. 


Why has an induction been recommended for me?

Induction of labour is usually offered because continuing with the pregnancy may cause risks to you or your baby's health. These are some of the common reasons why induction may be offered to you:

  • Your waters have broken before labour starting on its own
  • You have diabetes in pregnancy
  • You are overdue (More than 41 weeks)
  • Your baby is not growing well or is small for its dates
  • You have high blood pressure in pregnancy
  • You have had serious bleeding in pregnancy
  • There are concerns about your baby (low fluid around the baby, fewer fetal movements)
  • Maternal age (40 years and over)


What can I expect?

Induction of labour is usually planned in advance. Your LMC will arrange for you to be admitted to hospital as an in-patient. 

The process of induction can be different for everyone. Most women will have their babies within 24 hours; for others induction may take up to two to three days.


Commonly asked questions

What can be done to try to reduce the need for induction?

Stretch and sweep is a examination that maybe done prior to or during the induction to encourage labour. It is a vaginal examination where the midwife or doctor inserts a finger through the cervix, if possible, separating the membranes from the uterus without breaking them.  

What happens during an induction?

There are a range of methods that can be used to induce your labour:

  • Prostaglandin gel - This is a hormone gel that is placed in the vagina. Prostaglandin gel often works slowly and you may need more than one dose if this is your first baby. In a 24hr period 2 or 3 doses of gel may be needed. Some women experience painful tightenings.
  • The balloon catheter - This is a small soft plastic tube that is inserted through the cervix and a tiny balloon inflated. This puts pressure on the cervix. The balloon is usually left in place for up to 24 hours.  If contractions start, or the waters break, the balloon may fall out before it is due to be removed. Let your midwife know if this happens.  
  • Artificial rupture of membranes (breaking the waters) - This procedure is when the waters are artificially broken with a tiny hook during a vaginal examination. This can only be done if the baby's head is low and the cervix is open enough to allow this to happen.  
  • Syntocinon - This is a hormone that mimics your own natural hormone. It is given through your IV line in small amounts until contractions become strong and regular. It is usually given after the waters are broken. This procedure will be done in our Labour and Birthing Suite if you are giving birth at Auckland City Hospital.

During your induction your baby's heart beat will be monitored with a Cardiotocograph (CTG) machine. You will also have an IV line (a drip) inserted in your hand or arm.

While you are waiting for labour to start, you can eat, drink and walk around. It's important to drink plenty of fluids.

Can my family be involved?

Yes, your partner and family/whanau are welcome to be involved. If you choose to bring your children, it is important that someone other than yourself and your partner is available to look after them.