Will Kate have induced labour?
Here's what to expect should a doctor choose to induce labour.
(Getty Images)

Fans of the Royals in the UK are eagerly awaiting the birth of William and Kate’s latest baby, but four days have passed since her due date. Could the next step be labour induction? Here’s what normally happens if labour is overdue:

Induction of labour is the artificial starting of labour should it fail to start naturally, or your doctor decides that you need to deliver the baby early.

A technique is used to accelerate labour if the contractions are weak and progress is slow.

Induction is usually planned in advance and you will generally be admitted to hospital the night before the induction.

Why is labour induced?

When babies don’t arrive when they are expected it can lead to anxiety both on the part of the mother and the doctor. There are fears that the placenta may be becoming inadequate to support the baby who may out grow its food supply.

However, very few babies are truly overdue, since medical convention calculates the date of pregnancy from the first day of the last missed period rather than from the date of conception.

Most doctors will allow about seven days latitude. After this time you will be examined for signs of a prolonged pregnancy and the doctor will check that the baby is still fine in the uterus. If there are any signs that the baby is in distress, you will be induced.

A technique is used to accelerate labour if the contractions are weak and progress is slow.

Induction is usually planned in advance and you will generally be admitted to hospital the night before the induction.

How is labour induced?

There are three commonly used techniques:

•    Prostaglandin gel - this gel contains prostaglandins (various hormones), which have an effect on the pregnant uterus. They may induce labour if inserted into the vagina, often in the evening so that you will have gone into labour by the morning. This method is often preferred because no drips are needed and you can move around freely.

•    Artificial rupture of the membranes (ARM) – this method is only used near to the normal date at which your baby is due (term) since there is a risk of infection once the waters have broken and the baby must be delivered within 24 hours. If ARM fails to induce labour then some other method, usually an oxytocin drip, will be used as well. ARM is carried out using a tool that looks like a small crochet hook. This is inserted vaginally, through the cervix (mouth of the womb) and a small opening is made in the amniotic sac so that the waters can escape. This is painless. Labour usually starts soon after ARM because the baby’s head is pushing on the cervix, which makes the uterus contract. ARM will also be performed if an electrode is attached to the top of the baby’s head to monitor its heartbeat.

•    Oxytocin-induced labour – Oxytocin is a natural hormone produced by the pituitary gland and will stimulate labour when used in a synthetic form. It is used to start labour and to keep it going. It can be given in several ways, one of which is a small tablet placed under your tongue. It is also given by a drip. This has the advantage that it can be turned down or stopped if your contractions become strong too fast for the cervix to expand sufficiently for the birth. The needle will not be removed until after the baby is born because the uterus needs to continue to contract after the birth to prevent bleeding. This type of induction is used in only a small percentage of deliveries since the contractions may be strong enough to compromise the baby’s blood and oxygen supply during birth.

Info via Parent24

Have you spoken to your doctor about induction?

Read Parent24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Everything from parties to pre-schools in your area.

Jobs - Find your dream job

Perm Consultant

Johannesburg CBD
Teleresources (Pty) Ltd

Senior Merchandise Planner

O'Dwyer Personnel

Locum Nurse

National Risk Managers ( Affinity Health)
R160.00 Per Month Per Hour

Property - Find a new home