If a pregnancy continues beyond 42 weeks or if the health of the mother or fetus is at risk, labour may need to be artificially induced. Various methods may be used. If the cervix is closed, usually a pessary is inserted into the vagina to encourage the cervix to open. If labour seems to have started, the membranes surrounding the fetus may be ruptured. If the membranes have ruptured but labour is slow, the hormone oxytocin may be given by intravenous drip to accelerate labour.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.