• you are 10 days or more past your due date and the placenta is failing
• you have pre-eclampsia (raised blood pressure and protein in your urine)
• your baby is not growing well
• your waters break, but after 24 hours, you're still not having contractions
• you have diabetes.
Natural methods (at home) include curry, a long walk and sex!
Artificial methods (in hospital) include:
• prostaglandin pessaries or gel, placed in the vagina to soften the cervix and make it ready for labour
• breaking the waters round the baby, using an instrument like a long crotchet hook
• a syntocinon (artificial oxytocin) drip.
The method chosen depends on the state of your cervix and your consultant obstetrician's preference.
While there may be very good reasons for inducing your labour artificially, there are some risks to be aware of. Induction might:
make your labour very long or very quick and sudden contractions may be difficult to cope with.
Induction might also stress your baby and is more likely to lead to a forceps or ventouse delivery than a non-induced labour.
Your midwife will need to monitor your baby's heart constantly if you have a syntocinon drip, but intermittent monitoring should be fine if you have had pessaries or your waters broken.
Remember you don't always have to be lying down to be monitored. Ask to be monitored while you are sitting in a chair, or even kneeling on the floor.
If your labour is very slow, you might be asked whether you would like to have your waters broken, or even a syntocinon drip, to speed it up. If you're happy to continue as you are, and your baby is fine, tell your midwife that you want to leave things alone.