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What is induced labor?


Learn more about cervical ripening and induced labor

Labor is induced (begun) by starting contractions of the uterus. The goal is for the patient to have a vaginal birth. Approximately 20% (20 out of 100 patients) will have their labor induced.

Before labor can be induced, however, the cervix needs to be prepared. This preparation is often called preinduction.

In spontaneous labor (labor that is not induced), the cervix ripens before contractions start. This means that the cervix softens, thins, dilates, and becomes more elastic. These changes usually start a few weeks before labor begins.

When labor is induced, the patient will be given a Bishop score. The Bishop score is a 13-point scale that includes five measurements:

  • The amount of cervical stretching and thinning
  • The amount of cervical dilation
  • The consistency of the cervix
  • The position of the cervix
  • The position of the baby’s head

The Bishop scoring system helps to predict the patient’s cervical readiness before induction of labor. If the cervix has not softened, thinned, dilated, or become elastic enough, then the patient’s Bishop score will be lower. And a Bishop score of less than 6 means that the cervix may not be ready for labor and will need to be prepared for induction.

Medical devices or medications may be used to help soften the cervix so it will dilate for labor.

The time it takes to induce labor is different for every patient and depends on how ready the cervix is for birth. In general, it can take two to five days from when labor is induced to the birth.

Remember, every patient is different, and your doctor knows you best. After reading the information on this site, make an appointment to talk to your doctor to help you make the right decision about any treatments or procedures.
 

Updated on June 24, 2022