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Induction

Sometimes the 40-week mark goes by with barely a rumble from the uterus. Or labor begins, then stalls. Worst-case scenario: You've got a condition like preeclampsia or diabetes, and continuing to carry the baby would be problematic for both of you. In such instances, your doctor may prefer to give nature a nudge.

The most common ways to induce labor include:

Topical prostaglandin may be applied to your cervix to help it soften and dilate.

Rupturing the membranes (breaking your amniotic sac), may be done if you are close to labor (your cervix has begun to thin out and dilate) or labor is not proceeding quickly enough.

Stripping the membranes release prostaglandin. Your obstetrician will swipe a gloved finger across the fine membranes that connect the amniotic sac to the uterus.

Nipple stimulation releases moderate levels of oxytocin, the hormone that triggers contractions. Rolling your nipples between your fingers for 15 minutes per side throughout the day may do the trick.

Intravenous Pitocin is a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin. Pitocin requires careful control to produce a normal labor pattern. Induction isn't without risks: it can increase the chance of fetal distress, c-section, and, though it's rare, uterine rupture, which can be fatal.

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