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Cervical Ripening With Seaweed

In the course of pregnancy, sometimes it becomes necessary to deliver a baby prior to the mother going into spontaneous labor. Indications for induction of labor (IOL) can include suspected fetal compromise, pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), premature rupture of membranes (PROM), and chorioamnionitis.

The chief of ob/gyn at Ben Taub constantly drills one scenario into residents – never try IOL in a patient with an unfavorable cervix (according to the Bishop Score聽system).

So how do we make the cervix more favorable? Or in obstetrical (and culinary) jargon – “riper?” We typically try prostaglandins, but I came across something even cooler during my time on L&D – seaweed!

Yep, that’s right. Laminaria rods聽are聽inserted into the internal os of the cervix. They absorb the surrounding moisture and become larger in diameter causing the cervix to dilate in the process. This is a form of “mechanical dilation” as oppose to “chemical dilation” with prostaglandins.

…yeah…I’m probably the only one who thinks using seaweed in this manner is pretty cool. Oh well! 馃槅


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