What To Expect: Medical Induction Methods

Whether you've scheduled an induction or one has become medically necessary, there are a variety of methods providers use to bring on contractions and bring that baby earthside.

Here's a quick look at the top five medical induction methods utilized so you know what to expect when the big day arrives:


Cervidil is a vaginal insert with time-released medication that helps ripen the cervix (think: soften, thin, dilate). Cervidil is usually used prior to a contraction-inducing method to ensure that the cervix is ready for labor. Things to know: After the cervidil has been placed, you are usually expected to remain lying down for the first two hours following insertion (good time for a book, a movie, or sleep!).

Balloon Catheter

Also inserted vaginally, a balloon catheter is placed through the cervix and then inflated to manually dilate the cervix to 4cm. When the cervix reaches 4cm, the catheter will be easily removed or even slide out of place.


Cytotec may be administered orally or vaginally and, like cervidil, is intended to help ripen the cervix. Things to know: As with the above-mentioned methods, there may be a lot of waiting involved.


Delivered intravenously (through an I.V.), pitocin is used to begin or boost contractions to make them longer, stronger, and closer together. The goal is to create productive contractions that ultimately lead to vaginal delivery. Things to know:  It often takes some time to get the dosing just right, so resting before pitocin is started and having a plan in place for coping with the contractions (natural or medical comfort measures) is the key to preparing here.

A.R.O.M. (Artificial Rupture Of Membranes)

Using an amnihook or their gloved finger, your provider will rupture the bag of waters. AROM removes the cushion around baby, allowing their head to apply pressure to the cervix and thus encourage/assist in dilation. Things to know: Assuming contractions have begun prior to AROM, it is not uncommon for them to suddenly increase in intensity as the baby's head begins directly applying pressure to the cervix sans the cushion of the bag of waters. Thus, your coping mechanisms may change moving forward.

As with all things, each of these induction methods carries its own set of risks, and your induction plan may include one or several of these methods depending on your specific needs. It is always best to discuss any concerns with your provider; don't be afraid to ask questions or make suggestions!

Your voice matters, and we hope that this quick rundown of potential medical inductions methods gives you the information you need to ask your questions, make your plan(s), and prepare for your induction so that you have one less thing to worry about before you meet your baby.