Methods For Ripening The Cervix And Starting The Labor

Methods For Ripening The Cervix And Starting The Labor

The number of people who need to be induced into labor is growing all around the globe. 

Several studies have shown that cervical abnormalities are closely related to the effectiveness of labor induction attempts.

 It is necessary to have a thorough understanding of cervix anatomy and physiology during pregnancy, as well as knowledge of the various cervical ripening methods, in order to be able to recommend the most appropriate cervical ripening method in a given situation and, as a result, achieve the best outcomes following labor induction. 

For obstetricians in countries where not every procedure is commonly available and accessible and where C-section rates are quite high, like as Brazil, this presents a problem to them. 

In this work, many techniques are described, including breast stimulation, membrane stripping, and the administration of relaxing, oxytocin, prostaglandins, hyaluronidase, mifepristone, laminaria, and the insertion of a Foley catheter.

The number of people requesting to be put to work as a birth attendant is increasing all around the world. It is well known that the health of the uterus is directly related to the success of the induce.

It is critical to have an understanding of both the anatomy and physiology of the uterine cervix during pregnancy as well as the various methods of cervical preparation in order to be able to recommend the best method for Colo preparation in a given situation and, as a result, achieve better results in labor inductions. 


Because vaginal birth is now the preferred method for both women and doctors1, it has become more necessary to induce labor in women with immature cervices.

Labor induction in unfavorable cervix circumstances is challenging and time consuming for mother and doctor.

 It may fail, which is frustrating for both parties.

Following a vaginal exam, Bishop2 reported the findings of his research establishing labor induction prediction by the measurement of five specific factors: cervix dilation, effacement and fetal descent.

 The cervix consistency and position are assigned 0-2 and the other components 0-3 values. 

Given that four of these indicators relate to the cervix, it is the most important component of the 0-13 ripeness score. 

 The Bishop Index was a major help to obstetrics. 

 When inducing labor, a healthy cervix is essential, as is a proper cervical ripening process when the cervix is unripe.

Although perfect circumstances are difficult to achieve with a standalone product, several ways do get close, yet all may possibly cause onset parturition, particularly in term or post-term pregnancies.

 A single dosage, many drugs, or enhanced ministration time of a certain agent may make the difference between cervical softening and labor induction. 

Pregnancy and labor anatomy and physiology

The uterus and cervix are formed by synthesizing Mullerian duct distal tissue and absorbing it centrally. 

The cervix is made up of conjunctive tissue made up of type I, III, and IV collagen, with only 10% to 15% muscular tissue. 

 On average, 30% of the internal os is made up of muscle, whereas just 6% of the exterior os is made up of muscle.

 Other cervix components include proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans, fibronectin, and elastin.

A circle of muscle fibers around the cervical canal would produce a more fragile exterior os and a well-developed interior os, which might protect the embryo.

 This resistance should be overcome during cervical ripening, before labor induction.

The lowering of cervix resistance during pregnancy was linked to biochemical changes.

 The cervices of pregnant rats were ripened with progesterone, estradiol, and relaxing. 

So estrogen dilates the cervix, whereas relaxing reduces collagen concentration. 

Thus, the combination of the two hormones would trigger physiological cervical alterations. 

The cervix dissociates during parturition, allowing the infant to pass and the cervix to return to normal after pregnancy. 

As the conjunctive tissue changes, the cohesiveness between the various kinds of collagens creating the cervix decreases, while hyaluronic acid increases. 

After delivery, the conjunctive tissue structure returns to normal. A particular collagenase and polymorphonuclear leucocytes seem to be involved. 

The cervix is metabolically active during ripening and quiescent during labor.

 This is because uterine fibroblasts produce interleukin-1beta, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and interleukin-8 in response to increased synthesis of hyaluronic acid.

 These might release hyaluronidase in the cervix when triggered by IgA and hyaluronic acid. 

The cervix’s conjunctive tissue is loose and contains a lot of water. 

Solubilization water coupled to proteins and glycosaminoglycans like hyaluronic acid (non-sulphated glycosaminoglycan). 

 The rise in hyaluronic acid levels throughout pregnancy is statistically distinct from pre-term, term, and labor,

 confirming its participation in the cascade of events involved in cervical ripening.

The cervix’s physical qualities are determined by collagen fibers and glycosaminoglycan molecules.

 During pregnancy, the cervical region of the uterus loses collagen and other glycosaminoglycans while gaining hyaluronic acid. 

The cervix has large levels of hyaluronic acid before PgE2, relaxing, and progesterone antagonists rise. 

 Due to the strong attraction of these fragments for water, hyaluronidase is required for hyaluronic acid breakdown. 

In the cervical mucus, there are significant changes in hyaluronidase activity, concentration, and molecular weight of hyaluronic acid related to the increase in hyaluronic acid concentration in the first stage of labor, and the decrease in hyaluronidase activity one week prior to labor and during the first stage of labor. 

These alterations may be linked to cervical ripening. 

Prostaglandin production in the cervix has been examined in vitro. Towards the conclusion of pregnancy, output increases. 

This is significant because prostaglandins are involved in cervical dilatation. 

How to ripen a cervix

Various treatments have been utilized to enhance cervical uterine conditions prior to labor induction. They may be classified as biochemical or mechanical, depending on whether they include the administration of pharmaceutical drugs or the use of equipment that traverse the cervical canal.

 As a result, nipple stimulation and membrane peeling might be classified as combined approaches.

Nipple stimulation has been proposed as a non-medical therapy for cervical ripening and labor induction. 

Six randomized trials involving 719 women found that utilizing nipple stimulation reduced the number of pregnant women not in labor and the risk of postpartum hemorrhage. 

Both groups’ delivery and meconium elimination were comparable. Rarely compared data should be carefully reviewed.

 Nonetheless, this is a safe strategy for low risk pregnancies that requires further controlled trials to assess its safety and effectiveness for high risk pregnancies. 

James Hamilton proposed membrane stripping for labor induction in 1810. So yet, few research have been done on this widely utilized easy approach.

 Membranes stripping is digital separation of the ovular membranes of the lower region of the uterus by vaginal exam.

 This intervention was related with a lower incidence of post-term pregnancy (41 weeks or more), less need for alternative induction approaches, and no increased risk of premature membrane rupture or newborn infection.

 The drug may cause cervical alterations and should not be combined with uterine hyper stimulation due to its potential to reduce myometrial contractility. 

The blood estrogen content increased and progesterone decreased before parturition in lambs. These alterations are thought to promote prostaglandin production, therefore promoting labor onset. 

In addition, giving glucocorticoids to a lamb fetus caused premature birth. 

Using corticosteroids does not affect the beginning of labor in post-term pregnant women. 

There are no clinical trials to compare their findings with other treatments for cervical ripening or labor induction. 

Oxytocin has been used safely for decades to induce childbirth

In women with adverse cervical conditions, three to four consecutive days of serial induction sessions of 10 to 12 hours each day are recommended. 

Nevertheless, investigations have shown that it is less effective than other more precise approaches for cervical softening. 


Methods For Ripening The Cervix And Starting The Labor
Methods For Ripening The Cervix And Starting The Labor

Pgs have been studied extensively in the uterine cervix to establish their function and physiological consequences. 

 After then, PgE2 gel for cervical usage became the preferred Pg for cervical ripening and labor induction in industrialized nations. 

The major adverse effect, uterine hyper stimulation, may be reduced by taking smaller dosages (25 mcg) every four to six hours. 27-29 Also, this is the only prostaglandin accessible in the country.


Mifepristone, often known as RU 486, has been used since 1988 in Western Europe. 

It was created as an abortifacient. It dilates the cervical canal and improves uterine contractility, lowering the amount of prostaglandin needed to evacuate an embryo.

The research included 180 women, 97 of whom took mifepristone, with a statistically significant difference in labor duration, mean oxytocin dose, and vaginal delivery in the mifepristone group. 

However, compared to a placebo, this medication seems to reduce the chance of C-section for women. 


Hydroxylating enzyme from bovine testes that hydrolyzes hyaluronic acid by dissolving the glycosamidic bond between C1 and G4 of glycuronic acid. 

Reduction in cellular cement viscosity allows injection of fluids, transudates, or exudates to better absorb.

The mechanism of action is to depolimerize the conjunctive cervix components (collagen, hyaluronic acid, and condroitine), reduce cellular adhesion of collagen, soften and efface the cervix, and change the Bishop Score. 

Hyaluronidase is confined to cervix ripening and does not initiate labor. 

So it’s the closest thing to the optimal approach.

 Use it outside the hospital to induce labor.

 It is simple to use, cheap, and readily accessible. Women with past C-sections have no contraindications and may use this method for cervical softening.


This section includes mechanical procedures that were the first established to ripen the cervix or induce childbirth.

 Catheters (including the Folley catheter) and laminaria in the cervical canal or extraamniotic region are examples.

In recent decades, pharmacological treatments have largely superseded mechanical ones.

 Reintroduction for clinical usage due to benefits and availability of clean equipment, reducing infection, one of the main contraindications.

 Mechanical procedures may be more cost effective and have less adverse effects than pharmaceutical treatments.

 However, it is contraindicated in pregnant women with low implanted placentas, preterm membrane rupture, and a greater incidence of puerperal infection and pain. 

A comprehensive evaluation of 45 trials comparing mechanical techniques to placebo/no treatment, as well as mechanical methods to prostaglandins, determined that data are inadequate to assess the incidence of vaginal birth within 24 hours (intracervical, intravaginal or oral). 

Mechanical approaches lower the risk of C-sections when compared to oxytocin alone. 

It also shows the absence of scientific support for extra-ammonitic infusions used in mechanical procedures. 

Laminaria (Laminaria digitata or Laminaria japonica) is a seaweed that becomes hygroscopic after dryness. It is a cervical dilator when prepared as a baton. 

Laminaria usage dates back to the 18th century, but was abandoned because of infection risk. 

With modern sterilizing procedures, it was used successfully again in the 1970s.

 The mechanical impact of radial expansion, which happens slowly, does not damage the cervical canal muscle fibers. 

It also produces a foreign body response and local prostaglandin release. 

 Because laminaria’s maximal diameter expansion occurs within around 12 hours, it is vital to review the cervix during this time and replace the laminaria with a bigger one if necessary. 

Other more effective approaches have lately superseded clinical usage for this purpose.

Krause, cited by Hamilton41, used a catheter in the extra-amniotic area for the first time in 1853. 

It was a stiff catheter back then. 

Then, with 94 percent efficacy, the Foley catheter, a flexible catheter, was utilized to induce labor in unripe cervices.

 Because it is more acceptable and less hazardous than the conventionally stated procedure, it has been more often used.

The Foley catheter works by separating the chorion from the decidua, releasing local prostaglandins.

 Contrary to the methyl-analogous E1 prostaglandin’s effectiveness in multiparous women, the Foley catheter’s efficacy in primaparous women was superior. 

 Another study including over 200 pregnant women found that although prostaglandin E2 and the Foley catheter had equal induction times and labor times, the prostaglandin group had greater C-section rates. 

In nuliparous women, the difference remained considerable, proving that the Foley catheter is an alternative to prostaglandins. The groups had the same infection rates. 

Extra-amniotic infusion with a Foley catheter has historically been used to induce labor. 

The balloon had a shorter permanence time, induction time, and oxytocin demand than the saline and PgE2 infusions, but no change in type of delivery. 

 The procedure mentioned above is still controversial. 

When misoprostol, Foley catheter, and prostaglandin E2 were compared, there was no difference between the three techniques of cervical ripening/labor induction. 

The group taking misoprostol had a higher incidence of tachysistole but required less oxytocin.

 Extra-amniotic solution injections (in this example prosta-glandin E2) are not required since the outcomes are the same.

Less expensive than other procedures of ripening the cervix and inducing birth, the Foley catheter may be used by women who have had previous C-sections. Its usage in Brazil is currently limited, and no efficacy studies have been reported.

Tags: Pregnancy, stages of pregnancy, symptoms of pregnancy

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