Information for the public
During induction, you will be given drugs that act like the natural hormones that kickstart labour. These drugs are called prostaglandins.
Prostaglandins should be inserted into the vagina as a gel, tablet or pessary, and this should be done in the morning. Your cervix should be re-examined after 6 hours if you have had a tablet or gel, or after 24 hours if you have had a pessary. Your baby's heartbeat should be checked again when contractions begin. Your midwife may then switch to using a small hand-held device to check your baby's heartbeat at regular intervals. If you go home after you have been given prostaglandins as a tablet or gel, you should contact your obstetrician or midwife after 6 hours if contractions haven't started, or when your contractions start.
Amniotomy is a method of induction in which healthcare professionals artificially break the waters. You shouldn't normally be offered an amniotomy unless your obstetrician or midwife thinks there may be specific problems with using prostaglandins, such as very frequent or very long contractions.
Induced labours are often more painful than spontaneous labours. You should be offered support and whatever pain relief is appropriate to you – in the same way as if your labour had not been induced (NICE has produced information for the public on the care of women and their babies during labour, see other NICE guidance). You should be encouraged to use your own coping strategies for pain relief as well. Labouring in water provides good pain relief.