The Risks of Prostaglandin Labour Induction

By Samantha Thurlby-Brooks

I’ve just been doing some research for an exercise I’m preparing for my antenatal classes and found some very worrying things regarding prostaglandin labour induction.

If you are being induced for labour check to make sure the prostaglandin gel they are using is not Misoprostol. This drug is NOT licensed in the UK for labour induction and comes with serious risks to mother and baby. NICE guidelines explain this but still the NHS website advocates its use without explaining the risks. This is not informed consent. There are other, less risky drugs that can be used instead such as Dinoprostone.

According to research cited in ‘Optimal Care in Childbirth’ by Henci Goer Misoprostol causes

  • 13% of babies to be diagnosed with foetal distress compared to just 4% with Dinoprostone
  • 27% of births end in caesarean with Misoprostol and Dinoprostone prostoglandin labour induction
  • 13.3% of women suffer from uterine hyperstimulation, thus reducing oxygen to the baby and increasing the risk of uterine rupture
  • Increased chance of meconium in the waters indicating foetal distress

There are no benefits to using Misoprostol instead of Dinoprostone… it’s even more expensive to use and increases hospital expenditure on fixing the problems it creates. The NHS is being negligent when it omits these problems on their website.

Having a speedy labour is not more important than putting the mother and baby at higher risk. Caesareans come with a whole set of risks including infection, lacerations, haemorrhage and death. All of these considerations need to be seriously considered before accepting or refusing an induction, weighing up the risks of doing nothing or intervening.


Samantha Thurlby-Brooks is the creator and director of Mumanu Ltd; specialising in pregnancy massage, postnatal massage and BirthWorks antenatal classes in London, UK. Samantha supports her clients with kindness, understanding, knowledge and a damn good rub! She is also the creator of the award winning Mumanu Pregnancy Pillow

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