Medications used for labor induction work by either softening the cervix or by causing the uterus to contract, and in some cases, both. Cervidil, one common type of prostaglandin, is inserted in a small pouch into the vagina next to the cervix. The labor med acts as an aid to ripe the cervix and trigger the labor process. Pitocin is another common labor med you might hear about. This hormone is similar to a hormone your body already makes—oxytocin—and it’s given intravenously to stimulate contractions.
The primary risk of any medication used to induce labor is that it can work a little too well, causing too many contractions inside the uterus. If this occurs, baby may go into fetal distress, which ups your risk of needing a c-section. But this is pretty rare. When used properly in carefully selected patients with close surveillance, labor induction meds are almost always considered safe—for both mom and baby.