What is an Induction of Labor at the End of Pregnancy?

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Common Methods of Inducing Labor

  • Breaking the bag of water – According to Ross, amniotomy, or breaking a pregnant woman’s water, is used if her cervix is dilated to at least 4 centimeters. Amniotomy can jump start labor into progressing.
  • Pitocin – This drug is administered to cause the uterus to contract. Ross explains that pitocin “is exactly like the natural labor-causing substance that is usually produced by the mother’s own body.” It is given via IV to the pregnant patient.

These are medical methods used to induce labor in a hospital or birthing center. Pregnant women swear that certain “home remedies” also work for bringing on labor, although some may be old wives tales. Among these self-induction techniques are walking, eating spicy food, and taking certain herbs like red raspberry leaf. Always talk to a medical professional before attempting any form of self-induction of labor.

When an Induction of Labor is and isn’t Necessary

The Mayo Clinic website’s article “Labor Induction”, accessed August 31, 2010 points out reasons why an induction of labor is necessary. If a woman is past her due date, often an induction becomes an option. Inadequate amniotic fluid can also be a reason to induce labor, as well as a medical condition that is adversely affecting the mother and/or baby. Another scenario that can indicate induction is if a pregnant woman’s water has broken, but labor has not progressed from there, meaning contractions have not begun.


As with any medical procedure, the induction of labor carries certain risks, and should be carefully discussed with the doctor providing care. In the article “Trends and Controversies in Labor Induction” from MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, Jan/Feb 2009 edition, Vol. 34, No. 1, pages 40 – 47, Carole Ann Moleti MS, MPH, CNM,

FNP-BC discusses the growing trend of elective induction of labor. Moleti cites the growing rate of labor induction in the United States and proposes that reasons for this include, “the desire on the part of women and their providers to arrange a convenient time of delivery, and more relaxed attitudes toward marginal indications for induction.”

Obviously many pregnant women are tired of being pregnant at the end of their gestation, and eager to bring a new baby into the world. Moleti simply urges medical practitioners to weigh the risks and benefits of performing labor induction before resorting to these means. It is important to make sure the decision to induce is being made for the right reasons. Only a doctor and the pregnant patient can determine if induction is appropriate in her case.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.


What is an Induction of Labor at the End of Pregnancy?

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