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 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 are 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! 😆

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