How Long After Gel Does Labour Start (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Up to 24 hours

Induction of labor is done in a variety of different ways. Using a Prostaglandin gel is one of the most common ways of inducing active labor in the patient. Usually, doctors opt for induction, when the mom in question has bypassed her delivery date or if there are other medical conditions that may make waiting problematic.



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The gel helps in ripening the cervix of the patient for her delivery. However, it is only administered in the presence of doctors and medical professionals. Moreover, the doctor in charge has to sign off on using the gel before it can be administered.

How Long After Gel Does Labour Start

How Long After Gel Does Labor Start?

Labor can be initiated and hastened through several medical techniques. Usually, a Pitocin drip is used to do so. Similarly, the Prostaglandin gel is also used by many gynecologists to induce their patients. There is a specific timeline when it comes to the use of this gel in pregnant moms.

In most cases, after the gel is administered, the patient will inevitably move into active labor within 24 hours. Only in a minuscule number of cases does the gel fail to effectively activate labor.

The application protocol for the Prostaglandin gel is that it must be administered vaginally to the patient who is overdue or has a medical condition that prevents the delivery from being pushed any later. This may also include hypertension. The gel has to be applied to the vagina of the patient under medical supervision.

It usually starts working within a couple of hours as the patient starts experiencing contractions. However, some patients may need the gel to be reapplied. This can only be done after 6 hours have elapsed after the first application.

The gel can only be administered twice with a gap of 6 to 8 hours in between each session. Keeping this in mind, it is prudent to state that most patients will either go into active labor with 24 hours of the initial application or would have to opt for a C-section as the gel is not working for them. When opting for the gel, one must talk to her OB-GYN in detail about the possible waiting times and complications.

In Summary:

Specifics of the CaseWaiting Time
After the Initial Application of the GelWithin 6 hours
After the Second Application of the GelWithin 24 hours

Why Does It Take So Long After Gel To Start Labor?

Labor is a process that takes time to build up to its final crescendo, i.e. childbirth. Most women can experience hours of agony to finally reach active labor. It is important to cognize that active labor is when the patient is experiencing contractions that are 4 minutes apart and her cervix has ripened for childbirth.

If the woman in question has not reached the desired effacement level, then childbirth cannot proceed. The Prostaglandin gel helps achieve this. The medicine in the gel works to dilate the cervix of the woman, preparing it for birth.

The chemical composition of the drug works to induce contractions and then soften the cervix. This entire process takes time. Thus, a 6-hour window is stipulated after the initial application of the gel. However, the efficacy studies of the gel suggest that it works for the majority of women, as they invariably go into active labor within 24 hours of the gel is applied.

Nonetheless, if the gel fails then the patient may have to opt for a Pitocin drip or a C-section. The latter is the more prudent option especially if the induction is being done due to an existing medical condition of the mother.

Similarly, it is important to discuss the problems related to the gel. In some women, the gel causes extremely painful contractions that put the baby in a state of distress. In these instances, an immediate C-section has to be conducted.  Therefore, it is essential that the patient discusses all her options with the doctor in charge of her care.


For most women, labor is a daunting and arduous process. It takes hours to arrive at active labor and then to finally deliver the child. However, doctors can induce the process in women who are late. The Prostaglandin gel is used to achieve the goal of inducing it.

Generally, the gel can be administered at a time interval of 6 to 8 hours. It is known to induce labor within the first 24 hours of its application. Some women will reach active labor after the first dosage of the gel, while some others may need a second round of the gel to reach active labor within the 24-hour time window.


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