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Brian Iriye, MD

What to Expect When Labor Is Induced

When it's time, it's time. Learn what happens in an induced labor and what kind of drugs might be used.

If you’re being induced, it’s likely because of a medical reason that makes it less risky to induce than to remain pregnant. Here’s what to expect:

First, you’ll probably have an IV so you’re getting fluids and/or medication throughout your labor. Baby’s size will also be checked, and you’ll get a pelvic exam to see how favorable—meaning dilated and  effaced—your cervix is.

If your cervix is favorable, you may get oxytocin ( Pitocin is the brand name), which is a natural hormone that can cause contractions or make them stronger. It will be administered through your IV.

If your cervix isn’t ready to go, you may get a prostaglandin like Cervidil (inserted vaginally), which can help ripen the cervix and cause mild contractions. After 12 hours of Cervidil, you’ll probably be ready for some Pitocin.

As for how long labor and delivery will take after you get induced, it varies greatly. Everybody’s different. Some women are more sensitive to labor medications than others, and their induction could happen much faster, so don’t expect it to be completely predictable.

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