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Obstetrics is the branch of medicine that deals with pregnancy and giving birth. Most women have uneventful pregnancies with no complications. It is after all a natural physiological event, but part of obstetric care is to try to identify and prevent problems occurring during pregnancy and labor that could otherwise affect the health of the mother and the unborn baby.

There are numerous complications of pregnancy that makes it desirable, or necessary, to either stop a labor that has started prematurely before the normal 40 weeks gestation, or to start one that has been delayed beyond this time.

Premature (pre-term) birth

Globally, it is estimated that 13 million babies are born prematurely each year. Premature, or pre-term birth, is one of the most common causes of death and disability in infants and there is an urgent need to unravel its causes, as the reasons behind it remains a mystery in many cases.

All sorts of techniques have been tried to halt a labor that has started too early. Most treatment involves the use of medications called tocolytic agents that are designed to stop the contractions of the uterus. They are particularly useful at postponing delivery giving the baby a chance to mature further or to enable the mother to reach a hospital with specialist facilities. 

Induction of labor

Labor is initiated or induced by obstetricians in situations where it is considered safer for the mother, or the unborn child, if the baby were to be removed from the womb.

Reasons for induction include pre-eclampsia (sudden, severe rise in blood pressure and kidney impairment), poor growth in the baby, or unexplained bleeding in the last phase of pregnancy, but the most common reason is a prolonged pregnancy.

After 42 – 43 weeks of pregnancy most doctors agree that the baby is more likely to experience problems, with an increased risk of death, or brain damage, if the pregnancy were to continue. Therefore labor is normally induced at around 42 weeks if it hasn’t already occurred naturally.

Biology of labor

To ensure treatments to delay or induce labor are as effective and as safe as possible it is necessary to understand the natural processes involved in labor and birth. Many of the hormonal changes that happen throughout the process are understood, but the actual trigger for labor is complex and remains somewhat elusive.

Childbirth can be divided into three main stages. The first stage of labor prepares and opens the cervix for the baby to pass through, the second stage is the actual birth of the baby and the third stage relates to the passing of the placenta. Oxytocin and prostaglandins are the main substances produced at the end of a pregnancy to initiate the key processes for labor and birth. 

Oxytocin is the hormone that drives the uterus to contract, pushing the baby down towards the cervix. While the release of prostaglandins set in motion the processes that soften the cervix, making it thinner, and encouraging it to open ready for the baby to pass through, they also make the uterus more sensitive to oxytocin.

At the start of labor, the pressure of the baby against the cervix sends a signal for more oxytocin to be released. This in turn stimulates more frequent and forceful contractions of the uterus that push the baby even harder against the cervix sending additional signals for the release of even more oxytocin. This intensifying cycle is broken once the baby is born and there’s no further pressure on the cervix.

However, as soon as the baby is born, the uterus continues to contract to expel the placenta and return to its pre-pregnant state as soon as possible. After the placenta is delivered the uterus should contract and become very firm.


Family Centered

Your and your family's needs and best interests are at the heart of our superior health care. Across the life span, Women's Wellness Center is about: Personalized care, respect, empowerment, choices, and flexibility.

Women's Wellness Center is committed to providing, pain management, private birthing rooms, lactation support, and respect for cultural differences are just a few examples of how we address your unique needs.

Women's Wellness Center has doctors who listen to your questions and your family's concerns and help develop individualized treatment plans.

Our approach at Women's Wellness Center ensures that the best possible personalized and coordinated care is delivered to you. We recognize the entire family as an integral part of treatment.


Every pregnancy has some risks, but there are more dangers to your health and the health of your fetus with a high risk pregnancy. The causes can be conditions you already have or conditions you develop. They also include being pregnant with more than one baby, previous problem pregnancies, or being over age 35.

If you have a chronic condition, you should talk to your health care provider about how to minimize your risk before you get pregnant. Once you are pregnant, you may need a health care team to monitor your pregnancy. Examples of common conditions that can complicate a pregnancy include

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney problems
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer

More on high risk-National Institute of Health


Imaging Department

Women’s Wellness Center proudly offers a professionally staffed and credentialed imaging department with over 50 years of combined radiology experience, featuring:

Mammography -- Diagnostic and screening
FDA Certified
ACR Accredited
ICAD “Second Look” digitized interpretation

3D/4D Ultrasound -- Breast
Level II Obstetrical

Bone Densitometry (DXA) -- Full-body imaging for measurement of bone strength