If your baby is overdue, your midwife or doctor may suggest that your labour is induced or started artificially.
Induction is planned in advance which means you'll be able to discuss the procedure with your doctor and midwife and they'll be able to answer any questions you might have.
Even if your doctor recommends an induction, it's still your choice whether to be induced or not. If you decide to wait things out you'll be offered increased monitoring to keep tabs on your baby's well being.
Before being induced you will be offered an examination and a membrane sweep to encourage labour to start. Having a membrane sweep can encourage spontaneous labour and so can reduce the need for an induction. A membrane sweep will normally be done twice once you've passed 41 weeks of pregnancy.
If a sweep doesn't work for you and you're still waiting to meet your baby, you'll then be offered induction of labour. This will be carried out in your hospital maternity unit. You'll still be looked after by midwives but there will be doctors present too.
Your contractions can be started off by inserting a tablet or gel into the vagina. Induction of labour can still take a while, and you may be allowed to go home whilst you wait for it to work. Sometimes a hormone drip is needed to speed up the labour, but once labour starts, it should proceed normally. Just bare in mind that it can take 24-48 hours to get started. Your baby will be monitored once your contractions start to check his or her heart rate.
If you're being induced, you have the advantage of being given a specific date that you'll go into hospital, so there's plenty of time to make sure you have everything you need in your hospital bag. Make sure you eat well in the days running up to your induction and be sure to include plenty of starchy high energy foods as well as drinking plenty of water.
For more information on pregnancy health and advice go to www.nhs.uk/Start4Life