Foley bulb induction, Foley balloon


Foley bulb induction, also known as Foley balloon, is a safe and efficient method of inducing labor by dilating the cervix during pregnancy. It involves having a catheter inserted into your cervix and filled with saline to cause the cervix to dilate. It could not be long before labor begins. When your cervix dilates to a measurement of 1 to 6 cm, it is considered an early stage of labor.

The Foley bulb is just one of the methods used by healthcare providers to induce labor during pregnancy. Medication and amniotomy (a surgery to rupture your water) are two more factors that can induce or advance labor. Your cervix is compressed by these techniques, which encourages dilation.

The most effective technique of labor induction for you and your baby is chosen by your healthcare provider. When inducing labor is required medically, a safe and efficient method of promoting cervical dilatation during pregnancy is with a Foley balloon.

Reasons for undergoing the procedure

A Foley bulb is meant to facilitate cervical dilation. This pressure can shorten the time needed for an induction and help initiate labor. In situations where it is medically required to encourage dilation or induce labor, your obstetrician may suggest a Foley bulb.
The procedure might also increase the advantages of your unfavorable cervix, which is thick, rigid, and closed. A soft, thin cervix, known as a favorable cervix, increases the likelihood of going into labor and may react better to other interventions such as medication or an amniotomy (a procedure to break your water).


Labor induction carries a certain risk. The majority of healthcare providers favor spontaneous labor, in which your body goes into labor on its own. However, inducing labor can actually reduce the chance of problems for both you and your baby in difficult pregnancies.

Although utilizing a Foley bulb is thought to be a low-risk treatment, there are possible risks involved:

  • Cause distress to the baby
  • Infection or fever.
  • Pain.
  • The bulb falls off, or the procedure may not work.

Labor induction using foley bulb is not advised for everyone. If you meet any of the following criteria, it might not be suitable for you:

  • Breech position.
  • Placenta previa.
  • Positive for genital herpes.


The process of inducing labor with a Foley bulb catheter and, at times a speculum (a duck-bill shaped device) in your vagina will be carried out by your healthcare provider. The speculum will help widens the vaginal wall.

Your healthcare provider will introduce a Foley bulb, which resembles a catheter, into your uterus through your cervix, which is the opening at the top of your vagina. The end of the catheter resembles a balloon. The balloon is located at the base of your uterus, beneath your baby’s head. They then use saline solution to inflate the balloon. Your cervix is compressed by this balloon, which promotes it to open.

Once your dilation is between three and five centimeters, the catheter comes out after your cervix opens. Before you can start pushing to give birth, your dilation must be 10 centimeters. For most women, active labor normally starts 12 to 24 hours later, commonly with the assistance of medication. When your dilation reaches 6 centimeters, you are in active labor.

In order to assist the cervix to soften, healthcare providers occasionally combine a medication like misoprostol with a Foley bulb.

The steps for a Foley bulb induction are as follows:

  • Lying with your feet in stirrups on the examination table.
  • In addition to making sure your baby is head-down in your uterus, your healthcare provider will check the heart rate of your baby.
  • Your healthcare provider examines you for cervical dilatation. They might use a speculum.
  • The Foley bulb will then be inserted.
  • After the Foley bulb is positioned, the healthcare provider inflates it using approximately one ounce, or 1/8 cup, of saline.
  • The catheter is attached to your thigh or tied off and tucked into your vagina.

Your cervix may not dilate under the balloon’s pressure for up to 12 hours. By the time your cervix dilates to three centimeters, the Foley bulb usually falls off on its own. Your healthcare provider will remove the bulb and try another induction method if cervical dilatation is unsuccessful and labor does not begin.

Sometimes the cervix dilates, but the contractions in labor don’t start. Your healthcare provider may choose to start you on oxytocin (Pitocin®) to stimulate contractions or to artificially rupture your membranes (break your water).

The procedure typically lasts less than 10 minutes, whereas any labor induction can extend from hours to several days. It is common for the initial induction to take more than twenty-four hours to complete from the beginning to the end.


Everybody’s threshold for pain is different. It may cause a small amount of pressure and pain. A Foley bulb can cause discomfort and irritation for some people, particularly when it’s placed and inflated. It could feel like an exam of the pelvis.

Most people agree that a Foley bulb induction is an effective and secure way of inducing labor in past-term pregnant women. The following are some of the main benefits of employing this labor induction method:

  • It is mostly medication-free.
  • For most people, it dilates the cervix in 12 hours.
  • Less risk compared to other induction techniques.
  • Safe for individuals with a history of C-sections.
  • In certain cases, it can be administered in addition to medication for quicker labor.

Your healthcare provider will monitor your baby’s heart rate and decide whether you can go home and wait for labor to start or if you need to stay in the hospital. While a Foley bulb induction can be outpatient, some may experience rapid onset of labor. Before having a Foley bulb inserted, discuss any of these symptoms with your healthcare provider:

  • Decreased contractions.
  • Nausea or feeling unwell.
  • Severe bleeding.
  • Reduced fetal movement.
  • Water breaking.