Pregnancy Journey

Induction Of Labour

Induction of labour is when labour is started artificially. If it is felt that you or your baby’s health is likely to benefit, your midwife or doctor may offer and advise an induction of labour.

On average in the UK, 3 in every 10 pregnancies are inductions. When induction of labour is advised by your doctor or midwife, they will discuss your options with you before you make a decision. This will include explaining what will happen, why it is being advised and any risks to you or your baby.

Dive Deeper

Why Might I Be Offered An Induction Of Labour?

You may be offered an induction of labour for many different reasons, here are some of the most common reasons for induction of labour;

  • To avoid pregnancy lasting longer than 42 weeks (known as prolonged pregnancy).
  • If your waters break but your labour does not start within 24 hours.
  • There are other indications when your doctor thinks starting labour early is safer for you or your baby.

It is unlikely you will be offered an induction prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy unless there are concerns about yours or your baby’s wellbeing.

39 Week Membrane Sweep

A sweep is performed to help promote labour. A membrane sweep is where the midwife places a gloved finger just inside your cervix (neck of the womb) and makes a sweeping circular motion to separate the membranes (sac around the baby) from the cervix. It is your choice whether to have this procedure.

There is evidence that this can start natural labour hormones. Labour may start naturally within a couple of days of the sweep, but if not, your midwife may discuss repeating it.

You may also experience some contractions or spotting (a very small amount of blood loss) in the 24 hours after the sweep. If you have any concerns, please call your local maternity unit. Membrane sweeps are not associated with increased rates of infection or an increased likelihood of your waters breaking before labour begins. They do not cause any harm to your baby.

How Will Labour Be Induced?

There are different methods of induction. The type recommended to you will depend on your health, pregnancy, if you have had a baby before and your baby’s wellbeing. Your midwife or doctor will discuss with your which method is recommended for you.

If you decide against induction, you can choose to wait for spontaneous labour or opt for a caesarean section. The decision will be completely your choice.

Risk & Benefits Of Induction Of Labour

It is your decision if you want to be induced. You may want to consider the risks and benefits before you make a decision;


  • Your baby will be born at the timing required as per medical need.


  • Over-contracting of the womb may occur. We can give you medication to reduce contractions if needed.
  • Some women experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea after some of the medication used. If this occurs talk to your midwife who will discuss the options with you.
  • The main disadvantage of IOL is a woman’s experience of the labour process, with lower birth satisfaction scores compared to women who spontaneously labour. Therefore, we only recommend an IOL when there are clinical needs or risks.

Pain Relief Options

In the early stage of induction you can use a TENs machines, birthing balls, baths, paracetamol, pethidine or oramorph (oral morphine drink).

Once you are in active labour or are transferred to delivery suite to continue your induction, you can access all the above as well as gas and air or an epidural.

Induction of Labour Booklet

To read in more detail about induction of labour, you can download our Norfolk & Waveney patient information booklet.

Download booklet

Busting The Myths!

There are lots of myths about how you can make your baby arrive quicker at the end of pregnancy, but most of them are nonsense! There is no available evidence that supports the following methods to induce labour:

Raspberry leaf tea, Herbal supplements, Acupuncture, Castor oil hot baths, Enemas, Homeopathic methods to induce labour.

Who can Help?

If you feel worried and would like more advice you can speak to your midwife throughout your pregnancy and up to 28 days after the birth of your baby.

If you live in Norfolk

  • You can contact the Healthy Child Programme team for advice and guidance by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
  • If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the team.

If you live in Suffolk


Induction Of Labour Booklet


Induction of Labour ( A brief overview)


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