Once the decision has been made to induce, the likely scenario is that you'll be hooked up to a fetal monitor and have an intravenous line placed to provide IV access for fluids throughout labor. A cervical-ripening agent (prostaglandin) will be inserted into your vagina or up into the cervix. If your cervix is already slightly dilated, your doctor may perform a procedure called sweeping the membranes--a vaginal exam that attempts to separate the amniotic sac from the lower uterus, stimulating the body to produce its own prostaglandins. A catheter might be inserted to mechanically dilate the cervix.
When your cervix has ripened sufficiently, your doctor is likely to administer oxytocin (Pitocin) intravenously to get your contractions under way. Many women who have experienced both an induced and a noninduced delivery say that the contractions associated with induced labor are more painful, requiring an epidural. While studies of whether an epidural slows down the labor process have been conflicting, the most recent ones indicate that it does not.