Researchers Found A Faster Way To Induce Labor

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Inducing labor is one of the most common procedures pregnant women undergo. In fact, around one in five pregnant women end up having a medical procedure to start their labor and get the birthing process going. Despite how common it is, experts actually don't know which method of induction is best. However, new research suggests that combining two currently used methods may make the procedure faster and, therefore, safer.

For the study, published online earlier this month in Obstetrics & Gynecology, researchers tested out four different induction methods in a group of 492 women. First, there was misoprostol, a synthetic hormone that softens the cervix. Next, we have the Foley catheter, which is placed in the cervix and gets the dilatation process going. The third option was a combination of those two methods. And the final technique was the catheter plus oxytocin, a contraction-inducing hormone that your body makes naturally.

Results showed that, in general, the combination methods led to a faster delivery than either misoprostol or the catheter alone. But the effect was most significant for women who received misoprostol plus the catheter — they were in labor for an average of 13 hours compared to the 17-18 hours participants who only received a single method endured.

Your doctor may recommend labor induction for a variety of medical reasons, such as increased blood pressure (preeclampsia), gestational diabetes, or certain types of infection. So it really sucks if your labor induction method ends up making the whole thing last even longer. Plus, although being in pain for less time is an obvious perk, a shorter delivery can also mean a lower risk for complications and less time stuck in the hospital, the researchers say — and those are benefits for the whole family.
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