Induction with Cervidil: Tips from a doula and childbirth educator

Induction with Cervidil: Tips from a doula and childbirth educator

What is Cervidil:

Cervidil is a medication used in the induction of labor. In the most basic of descriptions it looks like a tampon with gel on the end of it.  Its generic name is dinoprostone.

When is it used:

Care providers will often use Cervidil as the first step in an induction.  If a woman’s cervix is not dilated or dilated only a little, cervidil can be used. 

How does it work:

Cervidil is inserted vaginally.  Some women report a discomfort with this process.  It stays in and is usually removed 12 hours later or if regular labor contractions begin.  Sometimes it will fall out.  Usually moms stay in bed or in a chair during the 12 hours, but can get up and go to the bathroom.  Most care providers monitor women while they have cervidil (this means contraction and fetal monitoring).  In some areas of the world, providers have sent women home with cervidil inserted and have them return for removal (this doesn’t seem to be the norm).

Download this helpful guide and don't miss out on the detailed information.

 Tips and other information 

  • Most care providers insert the cervidil at night so that mom can sleep for the 12 hours that it is in. It is important to eat a good dinner before you arrive at the hospital for the insertion.   
  • Sometimes cervidil causes regular labor contractions. (yahoo! This is the goal of an induction. If you have a doula, give her an update!)
  • Sometimes cervidil does nothing. This means the cervix is the same before and after the cervidil. (very annoying to most women)
  • Sometimes cervidil dilates the cervix a bit. (yahoo! This means mom is closer to the goal of 10cm)
  • Usually cervidil only softens the cervix. This means that a woman’s cervix is more effaced/thinned after cervidil. (in my experience this happens most of the time)
  • Occasionally cervidil causes extreme contractions (uterine hyperstimulation) that are right on top of each other. In this case you should alert your nurse and care provider. They usually can remove the cervidil if this happens.(this does happen! I've witnessed it)


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  • Alice Turner
Comments 20
  • Nicole

    I’ve got a good cervidil story!

    I was 42.5 weeks pregnant, with absolutely no dilation (they also had to get the nurse with the longest fingers to even find out how not-dilated I was). They gave me cervidil due to high blood pressure. It took two applications to get things dilating, but I don’t remember it hurting any more than a pap smear.

    But, the cervidil did it’s job and my contractions started at about 8:00pm. They removed the cervidil and by I think 1:00am I was dilated to 4cm and they let me go into the bathtub. My water broke at 3:30am, I got out of the bathtub and was at 10cm and I started pushing in the squatting position. I only pushed 10 times over 30 minutes, and out came my son!

    No pitocin had to be given, nor any pain meds/epidural. I had back labor, and it felt no worse than bad menstral cramps. I did drink a lot of Red Raspberry Leaf tea in the months and days before, so that may have helped.

    I’m pretty happy with how the cervidil worked. I would do it again, though hopefully my body will know how to dilate this time!

  • Sharmaine

    I was induced with cervidil at 42wk+5 because I had high blood pressure. I had the tape placed behind a very tight cervix – super painful, at 2pm started to have massive painful contractions at 6pm then had the tape removed at 11pm because it was over stimulating my uterus – after all that pain still not dilated and was already exhausted. Sent to labour suits at 6am – still not dilated and placed on syntocin drip. After a full day of high doses of syntocin I only dilated to 4cm and then developed eclampsia and had to have a emergency c-section.
    Is all I know is that it was one of the most uncomfortable things I have experienced – have my first and probably only baby was aweful luckily I had a big healthy boy to help heal the trauma.
    Good luck girls and remember that all birth stories are different and they don’t mean that you will have the same experience but I wish I had have looked into that side of giving birth – my plan was to have a water birth at the birth centre. No such luck:(

  • Kelly

    I am 39 weeks pregnant with my 6th child. I’ve been induced every time for different reasons. I have only used Cervadil with my first pregnancy and I remember my contractions being right on top of each other with no break (I didn’t get an epidural). I felt the urge to push when I was dilated to a 6. The nurses kept warning me not to push because my uterous could rupture. I have a new dr. this pregnancy and he wants to induce using cervidil….is it likely I will have the same reaction? He’s inducing because I’ve had large babies. My last baby was 10 lbs 3 ounces and the baby is measuring 8 lbs 11 ounces and he plans to induce in one week. Pitocin and breaking my water has seemed to work okay in the past so should i ask for him to hold off on the cervidil?

  • Lynn

    I will be 42 weeks tomorrow facing induction as my partners insistence on Monday st 42+1.
    I gave had several bouts of acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic adjustments, had sex, drink 4 cups of raspberry leaf tea a day and gave now had two sweeps.
    The first sweep with head fully engaged was at 41 + 4 fully closed. Today I tad a second sweep at 41 + 6. Midwife managed to insert finger and cervix is softening.
    In my heart I believe I can give birth naturally given a bit more time as the baby us strong, plenty of amniotic fluid, I have low blood pressure and low risk pregnancy.
    I read all these posts, blogs etc and feel pressure to induce from the hospital and other people because of my age 43 and social expectation that babies should arrive on their due date.
    The idea of pumping any chemicals into me to bring on a natural process when nothing is wrong scares the hell out of me!
    Has anyone else held off more than 42 weeks?
    I am relaxing and hoping the baby comes tomorrow!

  • Jenn

    I was given cervidil at 1230pm, 5 min later I had hyper stimulation, and my baby’s heart rate was dropping, and so was mine. I was having contractions one on top of the other and they were full blown contractions. I could no longer breath, and baby’s heart was almost not beating at all. I was 1 cm dilated, and had not even dropped yet, and my body was trying to have a baby. At 1245 my daughter was out via c section, and by 1pm I was starting to recover from that traumatic experience. It’s a very small percentage of people that will have a bad reaction, and I did, and it scared the crap out of me. I felt like I was dying. (Technically I was): the worse part was having a nurse tell me to calm down after 1 min of having gel, and knowing something was wrong. Good luck to all!

  • Vicky

    I had the cervidil with my last pregnancy, it workded great! I was 39 weeks and 1 day. My blood pressure got sky high and I had Gestional Diabetes on top of it all. So I begged and begged to be induced finally I got lucky. Well they took me back and around 10pm my cervirdil came in and I had contractions right away. At 3:56am. My little girl was born. I’m not going to lie. The contractions it gives you is unbearable but it really works amazing wonders!

  • Deanna

    I had the cervidil with my first pregnancy and it was awful! It was extremely painful for them to put in and it kept coming out. After it was finally in I was told to go to sleep. They woke me up in the middle of the night and told me they had to remove it because my baby’s heart rate dropped drastically. They broke my water in the morning and induced me. It took along time to give birth! Never again!

  • Tia

    This book is so amazing and on point. My experience with cervadil had only been as a doula. It generally gets you to 3 or 4 cm. but I’m not sold on the idea of it. This book lays out much needed information to empower my clients to make an informed decision.

  • Jessica

    Thank you ladies for all of your stories!!! They brought a sense of peace to me as of today I am 41 weeks and my doctor is planning to give me cervidil next week… I’m hoping and praying that my son comes before they even have to give me this but if he doesn’t then that’s what I’ll be taking…. This is my first born, so I am excited/nervous/ready!!!! Whoo-hoo!!!

  • Laura

    I just want readers to hear all sides so they can understand all possibilities. I was given Cervadil because I was 41 weeks and had false labor that wouldn’t progress and my midwife advised not to go longer. Within an hour of it being inserted I had contractions on top of one another. I managed for 3 hours before requesting the epidural not for the pain so much as exhaustion from not getting more than 2 minutes between contractions. I was at 6 cm. The epidural was working and then before we knew it there was a flood of people I my room. They were turning me every which way and then within minutes we were getting ready for an emergency c section.bit happened so fast. My baby’s heart rate dropped several times and then stayed low for 4 minutes. I was put completely under. I woke up to a beautiful healthy baby boy. I am so greatful for my dr and all the people that were there that day. Most importantly God watched over us all. I just want the facts out there but also for new moms to know it will never go as planned.I think my situation is a rare one but I didn’t plan for it. Every birth story is different. Trust your dr and remember you can do anything.

  • Stacy

    Same thing happened to me that happened to Sara!! I was given cervadil the night before with my first born started the pit the next morning… Went into labor around 12pm and 6 hours later she was here!
    As for my son 5 years later went and had the same thing done cervadil did nothing… Did the pit the next morning I felt contractions here and there but not strong enough to put me into labor… 48 hours later I was sent home bun still in the oven!!! 2days later water broke and little man was here!
    Being induced is just not FUN at all and you never really know how everything is going to work out!

  • Lauren

    I had was admitted to the hospital the day before my due date because of high blood pressure. They inserted the cervadil at 5:30pm and they planned on getting me up and showered the next morning around 7am. Luckily, my water broke at 10pm and then I had a baby next morning at 9:22am! It was perfect!

  • Anna

    I asked for cervadil when I was 38 weeks with twins. I stayed at the hospital for a few hours and decided to go home. While using the restroom before the car ride back home my water broke! 12 hours later I had perfect twins, naturally. Cervadil is excellent for jump starting labor. I would not go any further / invasive than this. Anything more and you are “strapped” to a hospital bed (IV, monitors, etc) which means your right to birth on your own terms has been taken from you.

  • Tolu

    I was 39 weeks and 4 days and my doctor requested cervidil due to lower than usual amniotic fluid after an ultra sound scan. She stated it typically will ripen the cervix and then i’d take pitocin afterwards to further induce. I never got around to pitocin. I started contracting from about 12am – 6am, still only 2cm dilated at 6am the morning nurse came in at 7am and i was 7cm along. My baby was delivered at 8:42am. She’s a miracle.

  • Ann

    I was induced at 39 weeks due to gestational diabetes. After 2 hours they removed the Cervadil because I couldn’t stop shivering. About an hour later, my water broken and I had contractions every 2 minutes, resulting in a a baby 1.5 hours later…we were all surprised to say the least.

  • Ashley

    I was induced with Cervadil at 40 weeks + 3 days. I didn’t feel anything for the first 18 hours, but when I went into labour my contractions started at 2 minutes apart, and there were no breaks once I was in full labour. I was an extreme case of the contractions being right on top of each other. My labour was very short and intense, which they said was a result if the Cervadil.

  • Kim

    Sorry I forgot to state that I’m a doula in my previous comment.

  • Kim

    I assisted a stillborn birth that was not going to happen naturally at 37 weeks. My client was told cervidil was “old school” to just use cytotec. I advised her that her body could help better if her cervix was softened with cervidil and then given pitocin to dialate. They tried to convince her for 18 hrs, the whole time on pit that cytotec was her best option. Finally the right nurse came and after 12 hrs of cervidil and some restful sleep her cervix was like butter and ready to open. She delivered within 3 hrs after being put on pitocin again. In my opinion cervidil is a much safer choice for induction compared with cytotec.

  • Kirsten

    I was induced with cervidil at 42 weeks. Started contracting moments after it was inserted & 11 hours later had my baby!

  • Sara

    I’ve used cervadil twice. First time I was induced at 38 weeks for pre-e. I got to the hospital with nothing going on with my cervix. The cervadil got me to a 3. Very smooth induction. The second time I was induced at 40+3 weeks (my choice). Again my cervix was closed, hard and up high. Cervadil did nothing, pitocin did nothing. I was sent home. Returned a week later, still nothing going on. Pitocin didn’t help so I had a csection.

    I’m a doula now and try to talk with parents of multiple children that all births are very different. We expected our second induction to be as smooth and easy as our first and they were so very different (same outcome obviously). As a note, my third was 100% med free, so again very different.

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