What is induction of labour and how to avoid going overdue?

What is induction of labour?

Some babies need a little help to be born. In some cases there may be a procedure needed to start (induce) your labour.

Why might labour be induced?

The most common reasons:

  • First time Mums going overdue
  • Other medical or pregnancy related issues, such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Your waters have broken, but labour has not started
  • Any concerns around fetal or maternal wellbeing

There are many ways of inducing labour, such as prostaglandin gel (hormonal gel that is inserted into the vagina), artificial rupture of membranes (occasionally your midwife or doctor will need to break your water) and Oxytocin (the body produces a hormone called oxytocin in labour and sometimes you will need synthetic oxytocin to induce or to make your contractions regular). Some women might need all these methods and some women may need some of them, as each induction is tailored to each woman.

How can I try to avoid going overdue?

Would you believe the most common reason for induction of labour in Ireland is a first time Mum going ‘overdue’. As this is such a common occurrence, I felt it might be a nice to share some little hints and tips that I have picked up over the years which may just help get things moving:

Medjool Dates

Bizarre as this might sound these sweet little fruits, can help encourage your cervix to ripen and soften (which is the aim of the game). Unfortunately, for those on a diabetic diet these sugary little fruits would be a ‘no go’!!

Sexual Intercourse

A hormone called ‘Prostaglandin’ is one of the first labour hormones your body produces, and its job is to soften and ripen your cervix so that when contractions do start it will be ready to thin out and open. Would you believe that there is prostaglandin in male semen!


Evidence shows that acupuncture when used from 37 weeks can increase the likelihood of your cervix being soft and ripe when labour begins, which as you now know means that you’re starting out in a very good position.