Q:

How is labor induced at 36 weeks?

A:

There are a number of options available to help induce labor at 36 weeks. These options range from natural approaches, such as nipple stimulation and breast massage, to medical interventions, including the administration of hormones oxytocin and prostaglandin. However, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, it is usually considered unsafe to induce labor prior to 39 weeks gestation unless there are compelling medical reasons for doing so.

Labor can be induced medically by intravenously administering oxytocin, a hormone that starts uterine contractions, according to Everyday Health. This can be supplemented with other medications, including prostaglandin E gel or misoprostol, which are applied in the vagina to help soften the cervix.

The Mayo Clinic explains that, while it is ideal to allow a woman's labor to begin naturally, it can be desirable to induce labor for various reasons. Doctors most often choose to begin labor when the pregnancy poses a risk to the health of the mother or baby or when the pregnancy has continued two weeks past the due date.

Claims that natural approaches, such as consuming spicy food and having sex, can help induce labor are not backed up by scientific evidence, according the Mayo Clinic. Nipple stimulation and breast massage are thought to release oxytocin, which may help bring on contractions, but further research is needed.

Inducing labor carries its own risks and complications and these must be balanced against any potential benefits. The Mayo Clinic advises that women should discuss their options with their health care provider to make an informed decision.

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