What is Cervidil&Reg;?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
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Cervidil® is a medication which is administered when an obstetrician determines that it would be safer for a woman to start labor immediately, rather than waiting for labor to start naturally. This drug is one among an assortment of medications which can be used to induce labor or to accelerate the labor process, and it is administered in a hospital setting on a doctor's orders only. Women who are concerned about the medications used to induce labor may want to discuss them with an obstetrician or midwife during the formulation of a birth plan, so that they will not be forced to make decisions rapidly in an emergency.

Known generically as dinoprostone, Cervidil® is the pharmaceutical version of prostaglandin E2, a naturally occurring compound in the body. Throughout pregnancy, the body produces prostaglandin E2 to soften the cervix for delivery, in a process known as cervical ripening. Administering Cervidil® or other forms of dinoprostone accelerates the cervical ripening process, softening the cervix further and stimulating the production of uterine contractions. The time between administration of the drug and delivery varies, as there are many factors involved in the labor process.


The drug is delivered in a pouch, in a method similar to that used with a tampon; the pouch is inserted into the vagina and left there. When the period of recommended dosage is over, or if complications appear, the pouch is removed. Because Cervidil® increases the effect of oxytocin, it cannot be administered at the same time as oxytocin, or a condition known as uterine hyperstimulation can occur.

Side effects of Cervidil® can include nausea and vomiting, uterine hyperstimulation, and irregularities in the fetal heart rate caused by the intense contractions. Due to concerns about the fetal heart rate, continuous fetal monitoring is sometimes recommended after administration, so that a doctor can identify any danger signs early and intervene if necessary. The use of the drug can also be contraindicated in women with a history of bad reactions to prostaglandins, or women with certain types of medical conditions.

The Cervidil® vaginal insert is manufactured by Forest Laboratories, Incorporated. Several other companies make versions of dinoprostone which are considered pharmaceutically identical to Cervidil®. Pregnant women should make sure that their obstetricians are familiar with their complete medical history, even if information does not seem relevant to pregnancy, labor, and delivery, so that their doctors can make informed choices about what to prescribe during labor.


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Post 4

@SZapper - I'm glad your friends doctor prepared her so well. I think that's really important. I've had a few friends who had less than ideal birth experiences because they were very under-informed about the whole process.

I think Cervidil does sound a little scary though. Irregularities to the fetal heartbeat sound pretty undesirable. Hopefully doctors only use this stuff when it's really necessary.

Post 3

One of my friends just gave birth, and her doctor used Cervidil on her with good results. They needed to induce labor, and the doctor decided Cervidil was the best option.

My friends doctor did a good job talking to her before birth and preparing her for all the possibilities though. When it came time to make a decision about using this drug, my friend already had all the pertinent information. I'm glad she was able to make an informed choice, even in the heat of the moment!

Post 2

@SailorJerry - First of all, congratulations! How exciting that your baby will soon be in your arms.

Has your wife had a BPP (biophysical profile) yet? Being "postdate" is *not* a medical reason to induce unless there are signs of fetal distress or you go post forty-two or -three weeks. The BPP is basically a detailed ultrasound and a nonstress test that will check to make sure there's enough amniotic fluid, the baby is making breathing motions and responding well to contractions, etc. If this shows problems, then it may be time to induce, but if you haven't even had one yet, ask for it! Your doc should *not* induce labor without signs of trouble.

People in the midwifery

community think that Cervidil is safer than Cytotec, which is actually not approved for cervical ripening. You might want to ask for Cervidil if they mention Cytotec again.

Finally, yes, Cervidil does sometimes work on its own to start labor. Good luck! I hope that you are able to wait for labor to start on its own and have the birth you're hoping for. (And it may be a little awkward at this point, but don't forget to try the best natural labor induction, wink wink.)

Post 1

My wife is at almost forty-one weeks with our first baby and the doctor is starting about wanting to induce labor. My wife has had some pre-labor, but nothing of note, and apparently her cervix is still "thick." The doctor has said that they would use either Cervidil or Cytotec to "ripen" it (what a mental image!), and then Pitocin.

Does Cervidil ever work on its own, or do you always need Pitocin? What other questions should we be asking the doc? We were hoping for a natural childbirth so we're not keen on Pitocin especially. We hear that it makes for really strong contractions that a lot of women can't handle without an epidural.

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