Current methods of labor induction.
In 2009, approximately 23% of all pregnant women in the United States underwent induction of labor, which is more than double the incidence of 9.5% in 1990. The ultimate goal of labor induction is to achieve vaginal delivery by stimulating uterine contractions before the spontaneous onset of labor. Labor induction is clearly indicated when the benefits outweigh the maternal and fetal risks of continued gestation, as well as potential risks associated with the procedure. Many women undergoing labor induction require cervical ripening--a method to facilitate softening, thinning, and dilation of an unfavorable cervix--because it reduces the time to delivery and incidence of failed induction. This article summarizes currently available methods for labor induction and cervical ripening, advantages and disadvantages of various methods, and the safety and effectiveness of each method based on well-conducted clinical trials.
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