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Mechanical Induction Of Labor


Mechanical induction of labor is a procedure to induce your labor before it begins on its own. Mechanical induction puts pressure on your cervix to help it soften, thin, and begin to open.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.
  • Steroid medicine: This may be needed to help your unborn baby's lungs develop faster.
  • Tests:
    • Vaginal exam: Your caregiver will check your cervix to see if it is dilating (opening).
    • Cervical fluid swab: This is done to check and see if you are close to delivering your baby.
    • Fetal heart monitoring: This is done to monitor your unborn baby's heartbeat before, during, and after induction.
    • Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures of your cervix on a monitor. It shows if your cervix is softening and thinning.

During your procedure:

You may be given medicines that help start contractions. Any of the following procedures may be done to induce your labor:

  • Amniotomy: Your caregiver inserts a small hook inside your uterus to break open the amniotic fluid sac.
  • Balloon dilator: Your caregiver inserts a catheter tube with a balloon on the end into your cervix and uterus. The balloon is then inflated with liquid. The balloon keeps the tube in your uterus while adding pressure to stretch your cervix. The other end of the tube may be taped to your leg, or have small weights attached.
  • Osmotic dilators: This is made of a spongy material with a string on the end. Dilators are placed in your cervix until your cervix is full. The strings hang down into your vagina. The dilators expand, which causes your cervix to stretch and open. Gauze may be put in your vagina to hold the dilators in place. The dilators may be in place for up to 12 to 24 hours.
  • Sweeping or stripping of the membranes: Your caregiver inserts a gloved finger high into your cervix and moves his finger in a circular motion. This motion releases the membrane around your unborn baby from the uterus wall.

After your procedure:

Your labor may begin, or you may need another induction procedure to start your labor. You may need to stay in the hospital or go home after your mechanical induction procedure. If you stay in the hospital, you and your unborn baby may be monitored for problems. If you go home after your procedure, ask your caregiver what activities to avoid. Talk to your caregiver about what to do if your labor begins at home.


  • Mechanical induction of labor may cause vaginal or placental bleeding and be life-threatening to you or your baby. It may cause you or your baby to get an infection. Amniotic fluid may leak into your blood and cause you to have lung, heart, and bleeding problems. Mechanical induction may increase your risk for a cesarean section (C-section). The amniotic fluid sac may break before your cervix softens and thins. Your baby's heartbeat may slow, putting your baby at risk for problems. There is a risk that your uterus could rupture if you have had a C-section before.
  • If your unborn baby has stopped growing in your uterus, your baby may die without an induction. If you are not induced, your baby may continue to grow and cause your vagina to tear. You may need a C-section. High blood pressure or other health problems may get worse without induction.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.