Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Pregnancy 5) Induced Labor

In some cases, medications may be used to stimulate labor: this therapy is called induced labor. Inducing labor may be beneficial when labor does not begin as it should, or when labor does not progress rapidly enough.

Reasons for inducing labor include:

  • Membranes have ruptured, but uterine contractions are very weak.
  • Pregnancy has progressed more than two weeks beyond the due date.
  • The mother has health condition that limits her ability to tolerate prolonged labor.

Labor can be induced using a hormone, called oxytocin. This is a natural female hormone normally produced in the pituitary gland. Oxytocin stimulates the uterus to contract. During induction, oxytocin is administered directly into a vein. Other medications, such as prostaglandin E, may be placed into the vagina, in order to stimulate the cervix to dilate.

Inducing labor requires fetal monitoring. If labor causes fetal distress, or if induction is not successful, then a cesarean section may be necessary.

Continue to Pregnancy 6) Episiotomy

Last Updated: Jul 7, 2009 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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