Your Cart

What Is a Foley Bulb Induction?

What Is a Foley Bulb Induction?

A Foley bulb catheter, which can also be known as a Foley balloon catheter, is usually used for labor induction to advertise contractions and dilation of the cervix. This induction technique is an efficient, secure possibility for induction for a lot of pregnant individuals. The Foley catheter is a tool usually used to empty the bladder. However on this use, the balloon portion of it’s inserted into the uterus and inflated, which places stress on the cervix to advertise dilation and contractions.

The Foley balloon is essentially the most generally used mechanical technique of induction.

Verywell / Alexandra Gordon 

How It Works

This induction technique begins by your practitioner inserting the Foley balloon, generally utilizing a speculum, into the uterus by way of the vagina. The balloon is positioned between the amniotic sac and the decrease uterine section (backside of the uterus) on the opposite facet of the cervix. The balloon is then inflated with saline answer and left in place. It is taped to your thigh to offer light traction. The catheter will usually fall out by itself when you’re 3 centimeters dilated.

When This Induction Methodology Is Used

A Foley bulb catheter could also be used for induction in quite a lot of conditions, together with when a supplier deems it’s essential to induce labor versus awaiting spontaneous onset of labor or if you’re at or previous full-term or your water breaks however you are not in labor. The process is used when the infant is within the head-down place and no placenta issues (resembling placenta previa) are current. This induction technique can be utilized both by itself or along with different induction strategies.

This system is an efficient induction various for pregnant people who find themselves not good candidates for induction utilizing drugs or for individuals who would relatively not use these drugs.

How It Feels

This induction process is carried out with the pregnant individual in a reclined place with their toes in stirrups. Folks’s expertise with this induction technique varies relying on the situation of your cervix on the time of insertion, the approach used, and if you happen to’ve had a child earlier than (which can make your cervix extra favorable to induction).

Many individuals say that insertion is essentially the most uncomfortable a part of the process. It could really feel much like having a pelvic examination, a sense of stress, and/or ache. Some describe having sharp pelvic ache throughout insertion, however the ache normally recedes after insertion. After the catheter has been positioned, it simply could really feel a bit of unusual, presumably like having a big tampon in. Contractions and dilation could start quickly after the balloon is inflated—or it might take 12 to 24 hours for labor to start.

Be aware that not like uterine contractions, dilation isn’t one thing {that a} pregnant individual can really feel because it occurs. So, your physician or nurse will examine you periodically to see how a lot progress your cervix is making.

Execs and Cons of Foley Bulb Induction

The aim of this induction is to trigger the cervix to mechanically open. Typically this may begin labor spontaneously or it might merely make the cervix extra favorable for a Pitocin or different drug induction or amniotomy (breaking the bag of waters).


  • Efficient, Protected Process

  • Drugs-free intervention

  • Usually leads to dilation and supply inside 24 hours


Using the Foley balloon catheter has an excellent monitor document of pregnant individuals giving beginning inside 24 hours of insertion. It additionally has comparable or decrease cesarean charges related to its use than mixtures of the opposite strategies of induction.

There’s additionally the profit that it’s much less prone to trigger modifications in your child’s coronary heart price or fetal misery than different strategies of induction. This can be why the cesarean price is decrease in some utilization mixtures. Nonetheless, you’ll have to have your child’s coronary heart price monitored earlier than, throughout, and simply after the process to see if the infant tolerated this course of, however this technique is much less prone to trigger fetal misery.

The success price of utilizing the Foley catheter for induction is round 70%.

Potential Dangers

The primary drawbacks of this process are that it may be painful throughout insertion of the catheter and it won’t induce labor, maybe necessitating one other technique of induction. Unusual issues of this process embrace the next:

  • Child transferring from the pinnacle right down to breech place (1.3%)
  • Fever (3%)
  • Non-reassuring fetal coronary heart tones (2%)
  • Ache requiring the removing of the catheter (1.7%)
  • Vaginal bleeding (1.8%)

Vaginal Delivery After Cesarean

The Foley catheter could also be recommended due to a earlier cesarean part or scarred uterus. Use of this technique of induction for moms who’re hoping for a vaginal beginning after cesarean (VBAC) is restricted however optimistic. A small examine of 151 sufferers discovered the speed of vaginal beginning was 54%. Issues have been inside the regular vary.

Outpatient Use

Outpatient use of the Foley balloon for labor induction has been explored in a few small research in Australia of girls with low-risk full-term pregnancies. They discovered that the advantages of the Foley balloon have been nonetheless current and there have been no issues within the teams. The American School of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that it might be acceptable for fastidiously chosen sufferers. Nonetheless, this method is often utilized in a hospital setting.

A Phrase From Verywell

It may be upsetting to listen to that labor must be induced (and it may be laborious to be overdue). This low-risk technique could also be useful to jumpstart dilation and contractions for a lot of pregnant individuals. Total, using the Foley balloon catheter is a secure and efficient technique of induction for many pregnant ladies. When you’ve got any questions or issues, talk about them along with your obstetrician.

Verywell Household makes use of solely high-quality sources, together with peer-reviewed research, to help the information inside our articles. Learn our editorial course of to study extra about how we fact-check and preserve our content material correct, dependable, and reliable.
  1. Gu N, Ru T, Wang Z, et al. Foley Catheter for Induction of Labor at Time period: An Open-Label, Randomized Managed Trial. PLoS One. 2015;10(8):e0136856. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0136856

  2. Diederen M, Gommers J, Wilkinson C, Turnbull D, Mol B. Security of the balloon catheter for cervical ripening in outpatient care: issues in the course of the interval from insertion to expulsion of a balloon catheter within the technique of labour induction: a scientific assessment. BJOG. 2018;125(9):1086-1095. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.15047

  3. Sarreau M, Leufflen L, Monceau E, et al. Maturation du col utérin défavorable par ballonnet supra-cervical sur utérus cicatriciel : étude rétrospective multicentrique de 151 patientes. Journal de Gynécologie Obstétrique et Biologie de la Copy. 2014;43(1):46-55. doi:10.1016/j.jgyn.2013.06.006.

  4. Wilkinson C, Adelson P, Turnbull D. A comparability of inpatient with outpatient balloon catheter cervical ripening: a pilot randomized managed trial. BMC Being pregnant Childbirth. 2015;15:126. doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0550-z

  5. ACOG Follow Bulletin No. 107: Induction of labor. Obstet Gynecol. 2009;114(2 Pt 1):386-97. doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181b48ef5, 

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH

Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, creator, childbirth and postpartum educator, licensed doula, and lactation counselor.

× WhatsApp