If you are being induced and your cervix is not showing any signs of dilation or effacement, your provider might recommend a combination of mechanical and pharmacologic methods in order to begin the induction.
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Using a balloon catheter is a common non-medicated option for jumpstarting labor. Two common options include the Foley Balloon and the Cook Catheter.
How does this work?
A catheter with either a single (foley) or double (cook) balloon is inserted into the cervix. Once it’s in place, a doctor fills the balloon with saline solution. The balloon puts pressure on the cervix, causing it to dilate. Once the cervix begins to open, the balloon will fall out.
A randomized controlled trial concluded that the use of the Cook cervical ripening catheter results in greater cervical ripening compared with the Foley catheter. However, the duration from balloon insertion to expulsion and then delivery were significantly shorter when using the Foley catheter. Therefore, they recommend using the Foley catheter over the Cook catheter.
Both kinds of balloon catheter perform similarly with regards to efficiency, safety, and patient satisfaction. Which one is used may depend on what is available at your hospital. If you are interested, talk to your provider about the type of catheter that is being used when discussing all of your options for induction.
Have you used either of these balloon catheters? What was your experience? Leave a comment below and let me know!