Your labor induction could happen with Cervidil. It’s a vaginal insert that includes hormones to start your induction of labor. How long does Cervidil take to induce labor and what should you expect during your Cervidil induction?
Hi, I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I have used Cervidil hundreds of times and have helped thousands of moms through an induction. I can give you some clear ideas about what to expect with a Cervidil induction.
If you have questions about an induction I highly recommend taking a prenatal class. This one is offered on-demand (so, 24/7 when or wherever you are) and comes at three price points to fit your budget.
What is Cervidil?
Cervidil is a cervical ripening agent used to start the induction process.
The cervidil insert is about 2 inches long and about ½ an inch wide (like the photo above). It has some firmness, but will become more flexible when hydrated.
It is placed vaginally in pregnant women by delivery nurses for a 12-hour period and then usually the following morning it is removed.
The Cervidil insert normally has 10 mg Dinoprostone which is a synthetic hormone used to get labor going. It is one of the induction methods recommended by the American College of Obstetricians.
The aim of Cervidil induction is to increase your chances of a vaginal birth.
When is Cervidil Used
Cervidil is used for an induction. Most often inductions are for medical reasons. Reasons (most often pregnancy complications) can include:
- Past your due date
- High blood pressure
- Too little or too much fluid in the amniotic sac
- Gestational diabetes
It can also be used with an elective induction, where you make the choice to be induced at the end of pregnancy.
The idea is to decrease the amount of time that you are in labor, and studies do show that that CERVIDIL significantly reduced your time to delivery (when compared with a placebo). The labor time was more significantly shortened in women who had already had a baby vs first time mothers.
When Cervidil is Not Used
There are times Cervidil should NOT be used. Some of those times are (this is not an exhaustive list)
- Previous cesarean section
- Medical conditions like if the patient is very sensitive to prostaglandins
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
- If they think the baby is too big
- Baby’s heart rate has issues (as shown on fetal monitoring)
- Placenta previa
How does Cervidil Work
Cervidil is used in a medication induction to start uterine contractions.
The idea (as with any induction process) is to make you contract, and advance the baby into the birth canal.
Most often Cervidil placement is followed by a Pitocin induction as Cervidil most often just softens your cervix and hopefully gets you to about 4 cm. After 12 hours Cervidil is removed and most providers order Pitocin after that. Pitocin is the synthetic version of Oxytocin.
Sometimes Cervidil causes contractions so much that your water breaks. at that point, they may remove the Cervidil (or it may be washed out). Most providers don’t do Cervidil with a ruptured bag of waters (my understanding is that it will wash out the hormones and won’t work as effectively).
If at any point there is fetal distress (the heart rate has problems on the monitor) or uterine hyperstimulation (having too many contractions too close together) they make remove the insert and perform other medical interventions as needed. This is normal for any induction process.
Complications of Cervidil
As with any medication, there are potential risks with cervidil.
Studies show there can be a risk of postpartum bleeding due to disseminated intravascular coagulation (meaning your platelets are busy stopping other bleeding and there isn’t enough for them to stop the hemorrhage) — especially in women over 30.
Other adverse reactions include
- Uterine rupture
- Need for an emergency c-section in the operating room
- Risk for infection (as something is placed in your vagina)
In rare cases the cervidil will make your uterus contract a TON which is not good for you or for the baby (because it decreases their oxygen supply when the uterus contracts). In that case the nurse would remove the Cervidil and could possibly give you a medication to stop the contractions (similar to what you’d get in preterm labor). If the baby wasn’t doing well (as told on fetal monitors), you would have a cesarean delivery. That is super rare though, I’ve never seen it.
As in all cases of labor, there is a chance of amniotic fluid embolism (although it’s not particularly increased in Cervidil) and as we are placing a foreign body into your body, there is a risk of infection.
Cervidil Side Effects
Common side effects of Cervidil (as shown in clinical studies) are
- contractions that are more frequent
- changes in the baby’s heart rate baseline/pattern
- nausea, stomach pain
- feeling of warmth in the vaginal area
- back pain
And, because it is a medication you could have signs of an allergic reaction. Things like hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Other Options for Induction
There are different ways to go into labor.
Most of the cervical ripening agents (like the use of misoprostil) have very similar things that could be side effects or complications. They do have different medications that they use, so you could try a differen type of medication if you were very sensitive to Cervidil.
You can also try a manual method like a…
They place the balloon of the foley catheter into your cervix and expand it (with water). That pushes on the edge of your cervix to open it.
You could also wait for natural labor spontaneous labor. It is important to weigh the risks of waiting vs the benefit of getting the baby out.
Before your provider schedules an induction, they SHOULD talk about the risks, benefits and alternatives of the procedure. If they don’t, you can always ask to hear about those things. It’s their job to share it.
Remember that while a successful vaginal delivery may be a large goal of yours, a healthy mom and baby is the most important thing — so be sure to talk with your providers about what you should do or expect at your induction.
AND, while the medication they use for the induction is important, there is a whole lot more to your hospital stay that you are GUARANTEED to feel more confident in this course. Check it out, and get started today. You can be all ready in just 3 hours!
- About the Author
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice.
She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.