Sometimes, labour must be started artificially. This is called induction. Labour may be induced if there's any sort of risk to you or your baby's health. For example, you have high blood pressure, or your baby is failing to grow and develop.
Induction is always planned in advance, so you'll be able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages with your doctor, and find out why they think you should have it.
Contractions can be started by inserting a pessary or gel into the vagina, or by a hormone drip in the arm. Sometimes both are used. Induction of labour may take a while, particularly if the neck of the womb (cervix) needs to be softened with pessaries or gels. Once labour starts, it should proceed normally, but it can sometimes take 24 to 48 hours to get you into labour.
Induction may also be offered in a healthy pregnancy if your labour hasn't started naturally by 41 weeks. You can find out more about this in the Overdue article (see Related articles). For more information on induction, you can read guidelines on induction of labour produced by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.