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    Learning About Your Health

    Labor Induction

    What is Labor Induction?

    Labor induction is labor that is started with medications to begin the process of childbirth. Labor may be induced for medical reasons or as an elective procedure. If there is a concern for your health or the health of your baby, a medical induction is indicated.
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    When is Labor Induction Recommended?

    The following are some medical reasons for recommending induction of labor:

    • Diabetes
    • High blood pressure
    • Post-dates (greater than 41 weeks or 1 week beyond your due date)
    • Prolonged rupture of the amniotic sac (bag of water)
    • Decreased growth of the baby
    • Abnormal fetal test test/monitor results
    • Mother’s medical condition
    An “elective” induction is one in which the doctor/midwife and the patient choose to start labor for other reasons. These may include: a prior rapid labor or living far away from the hospital.

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    Before You Come to the Hospital

    • Your doctor (or the doctor's office) will arrange the date and time of your labor induction.
    • It is important to call the OB Reception Center at (415) 600-2100 one hour before your scheduled induction to confirm your appointment. Depending on your condition, the doctor may request you go on a "wait list" for the induction.
    • To speed up the admission process, please send your hospital pre-admission forms before you come to the hospital.
    • Bring your "hospital suitcase" to the hospital with you.

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    When You Arrive at the Hospital

    Check in for labor and delivery at the OB Reception Center, located at 3700 California Street. You may drive down the driveway off Cherry Street and enter through the back of the hospital on the lobby level.
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    What to Expect at California Pacific Medical Center

    The Labor and Delivery department is committed to maintaining a safe and comfortable environment for all of our patients. Please understand that all women coming to our birth center are admitted according to medical need and medical priority.

    In some cases, and after consulting with your doctor, we may need to change the time of your induction or we may need to re-schedule your induction for another day.
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    Different Methods for Inducing Labor

    • Depending on your medical and pregnancy history and the status of your cervix, the induction may be started using misoprostol or Cervidil®. These medications help soften or “ripen” the cervix and occasionally initiate labor. This process can take some time (hours to days). Your doctor/midwife may request that you come to the hospital for admission in the evening so that the medication can be started and continued through the night.
    • If your cervix is beginning to open or thin, a small tube with an inflatable balloon at the end may be used to help dilate the cervix.
    • When your cervix is “ready”, another medicine, oxytocin (Pitocin®) may be started through your IV. This medicine will be gradually increased until you are having strong, regular contractions. Contractions are closely monitored to simulate “natural” labor and the dose of oxytocin is carefully controlled for your safety. Oxytocin’s effect ends quickly if the dose is lowered or stopped.
    • In some cases, labor induction may be started by breaking the bag of waters, especially if you have already had a vaginal delivery, your cervix has started to dilate and the baby’s head is low in your pelvis. Possible risks of breaking the bag of water is that the umbilical cord could be compressed or slip below the baby’s head. Infection could also be a possible risk. These complications rarely happen.

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    Facts About Labor Induction

    If this is your first baby and you are considering induction of labor, your risk for complications of induction were, at one time, considered higher than women who have spontaneous labor. However, more recent studies have shown that induction of labor does not increase the risks of Cesarean sections or other interventions compared to women who do not undergo induction of labor.

    If you have had a previous vaginal birth, labor induction (medical or elective) does not appear to cause higher rates of complications when:

    • The cervix is beginning to shorten (efface) and open (dilate), and
    • The pregnancy is at least 39 weeks (so there are no concerns about the baby’s maturity)
    Note: This information is not meant to replace any information or personal medical advice which you get directly from your doctor(s). If you have any questions about this information, such as the risks or benefits of the treatment listed, please ask your doctor(s).

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