Induction: How Long Does It Take To Give Birth?

For most women, as soon as you find out you're pregnant you start anticipating the birth. Depending on how much you know (and how many horror stories you've heard) that could be with excitement or trepidation.

One way to switch from trepidation to excitement is through learning as much as you can about the in's and out's (pardon the pun!) of the process. So today, we're going to talk about a not often discussed part of birth: induction.

When might you be induced?

There are a few instances when a mother is offered an induction:

  • She is 42 weeks pregnant and her doctor believes that the baby should be born now.
  • It has been more than 24 hours since her waters have broken and she has not gone into active labour.
  • There is some sort of health risk present for either the mother or the baby associated with the baby staying in utero.

Generally, you should be given the option to be induced and you should have all the pros and cons of the situation explained to you."

How does induction work?

There are a couple of methods to try to induce labour (that's what induction is). It can be done manually, either by inserting a small balloon to stretch the cervix and 'ripen' it or through a 'stretch and sweep' where your doctor uses a finger to swipe around the cervix to encourage labour to start.

Your doctor can also insert a tablet or gel into your vagina which is intended to kick-start contractions. This contains Prostaglandin, which your body would produce naturally at the start of labour.

If that doesn't work within 6-24 hours, you might be offered another dose or more assistance. This may take the form of an IV of Pitocin (a synthetic form of Oxytocin) which, combined with the Prostaglandin or alone, can jump-start the beginning of labour. This can take another few hours or up to a few days.

If you still don't go into labour, your doctor can manually break your waters which sometimes brings on the contractions that help push your baby out."

Is it painful?

None of the actual procedures should be more than uncomfortable. However, induction is associated with stronger and more painful contractions, leading to more women asking for pain relief medication. This, in turn, leads to higher cases of assisted (forceps or suction) births and cesarean section births.

If you're offered an induction, we urge you to ask your doctor and medical team as many questions as you need to until you feel completely comfortable with the process and the reasoning behind the offer. We hope this article has armed you with enough knowledge to alleviate any fears you may have been harbouring, without scaring you at all."

Inductions are a useful and sometimes necessary part of birth today. It just helps to know what they're about to avoid being surprised on the big day!


  1. Inducing labour - Your pregnancy and baby guide:
  2. Inducing labour:
  3. Inducing Labor: What Happens When You're Induced?:
  4. How are medications used to induce labor?: