Labour normally starts naturally any time between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. The cervix softens and starts to open, you’ll get contractions, and your waters break.
In an induced labour, or induction, these labour processes are started artificially. It might involve mechanically opening your cervix, breaking your waters, or using medicine to start off your contractions. It can be recommended if there are risks or complications that can compromise the health of you or your baby. Inductions can last for hours, and in some cases, days.
It can take from a few hours to as long as 2 to 3 days to induce labour. It depends how your body responds to the treatment. It’s likely to take longer if this is your first pregnancy or you are less than 37 weeks pregnant.
In most cases, when induced, the dilation or position of the cervix will give an estimate of how long the process will take. The time depends on the following:
The dilation of the cervix.
If your cervix has already started to dilate before your induction begins, there’s a good chance things will go faster than if you weren’t dilated at all.
The ripening of the cervix.
Your doctor may give you a percentage to indicate how much your cervix is ripen on a scale of 0–100 percent. A thin cervix is considered ripe, which is ideal when it comes to induction.
Not your first time
If this is not your first time of giving birth, your induction will probably go much more quickly than if you were a first-time mom. Your body seems to know what to do the second time. Often your cervix is more dilated and effaced the second time. And the tissues and ligaments have been stretched from the first time so it’s easier to accommodate another birth.
If you need to be induced for medical reasons, it can be a nerve wracking and stressful time. Being informed about your options and the process of induction can help you to feel in control and make decisions that are best for your situation