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Medical Induction of Labor


Medical induction of labor is a procedure to induce (start) your labor before it begins on its own. Medicines are used to start contractions and help your cervix soften, thin, and dilate (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.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Medicines:
    • Antibiotics: These may be given to prevent an infection.
    • Steroid medicine: These 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:

Medical induction of labor includes the following medicines:

  • Prostaglandins: This helps soften and thin your cervix. A gel is put into your vagina and on your cervix. It may also be given as a pill.
  • Oxytocin: This is used to start labor. It causes contractions to start and stay strong and regular. This is given through your IV.

After your procedure:

You will need to stay in the hospital until you deliver your baby. You and your unborn baby will be watched closely for problems. Your caregiver will check your cervix often to check the progress of your labor. Do not get out of bed unless your caregiver says it is okay.


  • Medical induction of labor may cause your contractions to be stronger, longer, or occur more often. Your unborn baby's heartbeat may slow, putting him at risk for problems. Caregivers may need tools, such as forceps, to help deliver your baby. Medical induction may cause an infection or bleeding that may be life-threatening for you and your unborn baby. Your uterus may rupture if you have had a cesarean section (C-section) before. Amniotic fluid may leak into your blood and cause you to have lung, heart, and bleeding problems. Medical induction may increase your risk for a C-section.
  • If your unborn baby has stopped growing in your uterus, your baby may die without an induction. If labor is 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.