Inducing labor (also called labor induction) is when your health care provider gives you medicine or breaks your water (amniotic sac) to make your labor begin.
Your provider may need to induce your labor because of medical conditions that affect your pregnancy. But some inductions are being scheduled early for non-medical reasons. Experts are learning that this
can cause problems for you and your baby.
If you’re planning to induce labor, talk to your provider about waiting until at least 39 weeks of pregnancy. This gives your baby the time she needs to grow and develop before she’s born.
Your due date may not be exactly right. Sometimes it’s hard to know just when you got pregnant. If you schedule an induction and your due date is off by a week or 2, your baby may be born too early. This may be one reason why there are many late preterm births (at 34 to 36 weeks) in this country. While babies born late preterm may seem healthy, they are more likely to have medical problems than babies born a few weeks later.
Inducing labor may cause problems for you and your baby. These can include:
Inducing labor may not work. If your labor is induced, the medicine your provider gives you may not start your labor. When this happens, you may need a c-section. Inducing labor doubles your chances for needing a c-section.
If your provider wants to induce your labor, ask these questions:
Last reviewed July 2013
You don't have to have a birth plan. But having one is a great idea! A birth plan is a set of instructions you make about your baby's birth. It tells your provider how you feel about things like who you want with you during labor, what you want to do during labor, if you want drugs to help with labor pain, and if there are special religious or cultural practices you want to have happen once your baby is born. Fill out a birth plan with your partner. Then share it with your provider and with the nurses at the hospital or birthing center where you plan to have your baby. Share it with your family and other support people, too. It's best for everyone to know ahead of time how you want labor and birth to be.
You may feel Braxton-Hicks contractions starting early in your third trimester. They're usually painless but can be uncomfortable. They are different from true labor contractions. Braxton-Hicks don't come in a regular pattern, and they don't get closer over time. They may stop when you walk, change positions or rest. They may happen more often in the evening, especially if you're dehydrated. They may be weak and stay that way, or there may be a few strong ones followed by weak ones. You usually feel them in the lower abdomen and groin. True labor contractions come in regular intervals, get closer together and steadily stronger, and last 30 to 90 seconds. They don't go away, no matter what you do. The pain usually starts in the back and wraps around to the front. If you're having any kind of contractions and think you might be in labor, call your provider.