What is Cervidil & How Is It Used?

What is Cervidil & How Is It Used?

So, you’re finally here: the finish line! 🏅

Ready to finally hold your baby in your arms for the first time…

But, of course, there’s one more teeny tiny hurdle to get over first… labor. 😅

We’ll be real with you, mama-to-be — labor can be hard.

And, sometimes, we need a helping hand to encourage baby to make their debut into the world. 👶

So, what is Cervidil?

And how successful is it for inducing labor?

We’ve got you covered — let’s dive right in. 👇

In this article: 📝

  • So, what does Cervidil do?
  • How long does Cervidil take to induce labor?
  • How do I know Cervidil is working?
  • How much does Cervidil cost?
  • What are the risks of Cervidil?
  • When should you not use Cervidil?

So, what does Cervidil do?

Put simply, Cervidil can help to soften your cervix ready for labor. [1]

But Cervidil is just a brand name of the drug Dinoprostone.

Dinoprostone (also known as prostaglandin E2) actually is a natural substance that your body makes in preparation for labor.

That’s why a dosage of this can make the body think it’s go-time, even when it’s being a little stubborn about getting things moving. 🫠

So, Cervidil is used when your cervix isn’t showing any signs of dilating (opening) up to let baby come and make their debut into the world. [2]

It’s inserted into your vagina as you lie on your back, and is placed right by your cervix by a healthcare provider.

And then, it can start doing its thing. ✨

Can you go into labor after Cervidil?

So, although Cervidil is helpful for preparing the cervix for labor, it doesn’t necessarily start labor or induce it directly.

So yes — you can go into labor after Cervidil.

But it’s more likely that Cervidil will help encourage your cervix to get into the early stages of labor, where you’re about 1 - 6 centimeters dilated. [3]

To be in full labor, ready to deliver your little babe, you’ll need to be 10 centimeters dilated.

Is Cervidil like a tampon?

Well, we can see the resemblance…

But it’s definitely not a tampon, and doesn’t do the same job a tampon does. 🩸

Although, it does come in an insert that looks like a tampon, and is placed into your vagina.

Slowly over 24 hours, the medication is released in the hope that this will cause your cervix to soften and the first stages of labor can begin.

How successful is Cervidil?

Cervidil themselves say that it’s designed to work in “the majority of patients”. [4]

It’s good to note, though, that Cervidil won’t work the same way for everybody — it may induce contractions in one woman, but maybe only relax the cervix a little in another.

But, if Cervidil doesn’t work, some women may need follow-up treatment, such as Pitocin (more on this below 👇).


How long does Cervidil take to induce labor?

It usually takes between 12 - 24 hours. [5]

But, everyone’s different. 🤷‍♀️

You might get to 24 hours and still not have any indications of labor at all, so you may need some follow-up treatment.

What happens after 12 hours of Cervidil?

Cervidil releases the medication for 12 hours.

And during this time, you can just lie back and relax. ♨️

After 12 hours (or before), you may be able to feel some effects of the medicine working, so the healthcare provider may remove the insert from your vagina if the medicine has done its job.

If you haven’t seen any signs Cervidil is working, you can keep it in for up to 24 hours — so it’ll be up to your healthcare provider to decide whether to remove it, or carry on with the process.

How long after Cervidil removal can you start Pitocin?

In some cases, after having Cervidil, you might be advised to take Pitocin — a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin. [6]

You’d be advised to take this if you hadn’t experienced stronger, more regular contractions after your dose of Cervidil. [7]

So, basically, it’s a follow-up treatment for if Cervidil hasn’t worked.

Pitocin could then potentially jumpstart these stronger contractions. 🌊

🔍 Read More: Natural Ways to Induce Labor 👶

How do I know Cervidil is working?

You’ll probably feel some mild, soft cramping or contractions when Cervidil has started working.

You may also notice some pinkish vaginal discharge, or maybe also some backache.

At this point, your healthcare provider will be assessing you to see if it’s worked and, if so, if it’s no longer needed.

If it’s working, they will be able to remove the insert from the vagina.

Can you use the bathroom with Cervidil? 🚾

It’s best to avoid standing up for the first couple of hours, so I’m afraid getting up to the bathroom is also off the cards at first, mama-to-be.

(I know, possibly easier said than done when you have a full human pressing on your bladder. 🙃)

But it’s advised to go to the bathroom right before the Cervidil is inserted, and then lie on your back for 2 hours afterward.

That way, it has the best chance of working.

After those first 2 hours have passed, you can get up to use the bathroom again.

Can you walk around with Cervidil? 🚶‍♀️

It’s best to avoid standing up for the first couple of hours.

That’s because you should remain on your back, or reclined, to let the Cervidil do work its magic.

Your healthcare provider will let you know when you’re okay to get up, and start walking around.

Can you sleep with Cervidil? 💤

If you can get to sleep, sure thing!

As we mentioned earlier, the purpose of Cervidil is to get your cervix loose and soft, ready for labor.

As it starts working, you may experience some mild cramping and contractions, which would probably prevent you from going to sleep.

But, it may not work, or not work right away — in which case, get in those zzz’s mama-to-be, it’s a big adventure in front of you, so if you can get to sleep, you’re absolutely okay to nod off for a bit.

Healthcare providers will be actively monitoring you anyway, so if they need you to wake up for anything, they’ll be sure to let you know.


How much does Cervidil cost?

It’s roughly around $560 for a supply of 1 vaginal insert (10mg) of Cervidil. [8]

But that does depend on where it’s bought from.

You may also be able to claim for this on your health insurance, as part of your birth plan.

It’s important to note that Cervidil is for hospital use only, as a trained healthcare professional must administer it and monitor the patient.

Chat to your doctor about it for more information based on where you’re located, and how it’s accounted for. 🩺

What are the risks of Cervidil?

Of course, with any type of medication, there may be side effects.

Although uncommon, you could experience fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhea. [9]

In rare cases, Cervidil could cause uterine overstimulation (where the contractions are too frequent), or, in even rarer cases, injury to the womb (uterine rupture). [10]

If you have any severe pain in your womb, any chest pain/shortness of breath, or confusion, medical help will be delivered right away.

But, in most cases, Cervidil doesn’t cause many side effects for women.

Can Cervidil affect the baby?

There’s some speculation around whether Cervidil could cause increased, or abnormal, contractions which could affect the baby. [11]

The theory is that this overstimulation could affect the unborn baby’s blood oxygen levels. [12]

Blood oxygen levels in a fetus have been linked to hypoxic brain damage, as well as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) — which could then lead to cerebral palsy. [13]

But your doctor will explain all risks before you go ahead with the procedure, and you’ll be asked to sign a consent form beforehand.

Can Cervidil cause fetal distress?

Your baby might also experience side effects from Cervidil in some rare cases.

This could include signs of distress, for example, the heart rate could be faster, or slower, than normal.

So that’s why you’re monitored carefully throughout having Cervidil as, if your contractions get too strong, they will remove the pessary.

Is Cervidil induction painful?

It kinda depends on your pain threshold. 🤷‍♀️

Some women say they’ve experienced cramping, or mild contractions, as it’s working.

But some say it wasn’t painful at all for them.

It generally isn’t expected to be painful, but as it starts to prepare the cervix for labor, your contractions may become more uncomfortable.


When should you not use Cervidil?

There’s actually quite a long list of people who shouldn’t use Cervidil, some of them including: [14]

  • 🩸 If you’ve had unexplained vaginal bleeding during the pregnancy
  • 🤰 If you’re already receiving intravenous oxytocic drugs
  • 👶👶 Multipara (someone who’s had two or more viable pregnancies) with 6 or more previous-term pregnancies
  • … and more specific healthcare-related reasons!

Best bet?

Go through your options with your doc, and they’ll know your medical history best, and be able to tell you whether Cervidil is an option for you.

There’s also a select few who need to proceed with caution when considering Cervidil for their induction in: [14]

  • 🫁 Patients who’ve had childhood asthma (even if there have been no asthma attacks in adulthood)
  • 🤰 Patients with a history of previous uterine hypertonus (contractions which are too frequent)
  • 👁️ Patients with glaucoma
  • 👶 Patients who have had a mismatch between the baby’s head and the mother’s pelvis (i.e. the baby is large or out of position when entering the birthing canal).

🔍 Interested In Other Induction Options? Learn About Foley Bulbs 💡

Deciding which induction method to go for can be a tricky decision.

Especially when you’re anxious for the little babe to come out and meet you.

But, be sure you’ve thoroughly spoken through everything with your doctor to agree on the best decision for you and baby. 🤗

Want more advice from mamas who’ve been through it?

We know just the place. 🥜


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