Induction of Labor

Induction of labor is a procedure where medication is used to either initiate the onset of labor, or to maintain or strengthen labor.

Intravenous Pitocin is most commonly used for this. Pitocin causes uterine contractions, and is given in very low doses using a computer-controlled continuous intravenous pump. The first setting is at the lowest dose, and then the dose is gradually increased until satisfactory contractions have been obtained.

We can also induce labor using a medication called Cytotec. This is a hormone inserted vaginally and studies have shown it to be a safe and effective method for inducing labor and/or for helping the cervix soften up.

There are many different reasons why labor may need to be induced. The most common medical indications are overdue babies, elevated blood pressure, history of rapid labor, and suspected big babies (we can induce a bit before the due date, before the baby reached its largest size). Sometimes we induce labor because patients live far away, or have other ‘situational’ reasons, which are referred to as “logistical” indications.

Many patients wonder if there is way to “make themselves” go into labor. Ob/Gyn’s usually advise vigorous physical activity, dancing, walking a lot, having intercourse. All might help. One interesting approach is the famous “Maternity Salad.” This is available at a restaurant called Caioti, in Studio City (818-761-3588). Good luck!