Using Foley Bulb for Induction of Labour

Using Foley Bulb for Induction of Labour

From conception to birth, as an expectant mother, you always want to make the right decision for the well-being of your unborn baby. It is important to be well equipped with all the knowledge relating to labour and delivery as you near your due date. Sometimes due to various reasons, some women fail to experience labour when ought to. Hence there are different methods of inducing one. Here we shall be discussing foley bulb for induction of labour.


What is Foley Bulb Induction

The foley bulb induction is a procedure for dilating a woman’s cervix during labour. The doctor inserts a catheter into the cervix, which has one deflated end. Once the catheter is placed into the cervix, the doctor fills the catheter with saline. This process is used to put pressure on the cervix or the uterine walls and cause dilation. As soon as the cervix dilates to 3 centimetres, the catheter falls on its own. This method is not a popular method of induction but women who wish to opt for the non-medicinal method of induction, this option may be considered.


Reasons Why Pregnant Women Need a Foley Bulb Catheter Induction

In some cases, a pregnant woman may need a Foley balloon catheter induction and some of these reasons may be:

  • In case your water breaks but your contractions have not started.
  • In case you are overdue or have crossed your due date.
  • In case you have a certain medical condition such as hypertension, your baby may not be getting ample oxygen, or you have an infection etc.

What are the Benefits of Foley Catheter

A urinary catheter bulb

Though this is not a very popular method of induction, however, Foley catheter has its own sets of benefits. It may not only mechanically open up the cervix, but it may sometimes simultaneously start the labour procedure too. Also, it has been observed that women who used a Foley catheter or popularly known as Foley bulb effectively, gave birth within 24 hours after the insertion. The use of this induction method is also believed to lower the chances of a caesarean delivery, when it may be used with or without other induction methods. The use of this induction method puts less stress on your baby’s heart rate too, in comparison to other methods of induction.

What Are the Risks of Using Foley Catheter for Labour Induction

Here are some potential risks of using a Foley catheter for labour induction:

  • It may cause intense pelvic pain to the pregnant woman and thus may require immediate removal.
  • It may cause fever.
  • It may lead to vaginal bleeding.
  • It may make your baby move from the head down to breech position.
  • It may lead to non-assuring foetal heart rate.
  • It may increase the chances of infection.
  • It may increase the chances of caesarean delivery.
  • It may lead to uterine rupture.
  • It may cause umbilical cord complications in babies.
  • It may cause lower foetal heartbeat when used along with other labour inducing medicines.

The Procedure of Labour Induction Using Foley Balloon/Bulb

Before the procedure of Foley balloon for cervical dilation begins, your midwife/doctor will take your blood pressure, temperature, check your pulse and view your pregnancy records. Your baby’s position will be established, and your baby’s heart rate will be monitored too. Here’s what may happen during the procedure:

  • You will be told to lie down on your back, with your knees wide open. Your doctor will insert a balloon catheter inside your vagina.
  • The balloon will be filled with saline, which may cause pressure on your cervix and encourage it to soften and dilate.
  • As your cervix opens, the catheter will fall on its own. In case your cervix does not dilate, the catheter will be removed.
  • In either case, you will stay in the hospital until the procedure is complete.

How Does it Feel After Insertion of Balloon Catheter?

The experience may vary from one woman to another, but the factors that may determine how you feel may depend on:

  • The condition of the cervix
  • The procedure that may be adopted
  • Having had a baby before

In most cases, it is established that insertion of the catheter balloon may cause varied levels of discomfort, but it may be within the tolerable limits.

Things to Keep in Mind After Insertion of Foley

The Foley catheter may make the cervix softer and stretchier, and this aids cervix to open up. However, some things need to be remembered after the insertion of the Foley catheter such as:

  • You may be allowed to take showers or baths if you want to.
  • You may be allowed to move around until or unless your doctor advised you against it.
  • You may be able to pass your urine and bowels without any problem.
  • You may check the foley balloon by giving it a gentle push and see if it is working.
  • You may get some spotting for a few hours after insertion, which is very normal.
  • You may experience cramping, just the way may feel during your periods, and it may stay until the catheter falls.

However, if you notice experience heavy bleeding, your water breaks or you think you are going into labour, call your midwife or doctor right away.

Foley Catheter Induction and VBAC

In case a woman has had a previous caesarean birth or has a scarred uterus, foley catheter induction may be suggested by her doctor. Though the intracervical Foley catheter for induction of labour for women who wish to opt for VBAC are very limited, however, the results may be positive. In a study conducted on approximately 150 women, who opted for foley catheter induction for vaginal birth after caesarean delivery, it was observed that the success rate was more than 50 per cent. However, there were complications reported too, but those were within the expected limits.

Foley catheter induction is a very safe and effective way of induction. It is necessary that you discuss the various pros and cons of this method of induction with your doctor before you decide in its favour.