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Using a transcervical Foley catheter to enhance normality for induction of labour

02 July 2019
19 min read
Volume 27 · Issue 7



Vaginal prostaglandins are the most widely used method of labour induction in the UK. The rise in the number of women undergoing induction of labour requires the exploration of alternative, safe and holistically effective methods.


To determine if a transcervical Foley catheter could enhance normality and improve induction outcomes.


Four primary peer-reviewed articles were systematically reviewed to evaluate the effectiveness, safety and labour outcomes of the transcervical Foley catheter. Key findings were analysed, discussed and summarised.


There was a lack of publications; however, the transcervical Foley catheter demonstrated favourability of cervical dilatation on a moderate sample, with fewer adverse maternal or neonatal risks, making it a safer alternative to pharmacological methods. The rate of caesarean section was not increased and similar to women using vaginal prostaglandins. However, women using vaginal prostaglandins were more likely to have a caesarean section due to a non-reassuring fetal heart rate.


A transcervical Foley catheter is an effective method of labour induction that provides women with an alternative to pharmacological methods and offers choice. The transcervical Foley catheter will improve women's overall experience of induction and enhance normality of induction of labour.

In 2016–2017, 29.4% of women in the UK underwent a medical induction of labour (NHS Digital, 2017). This is an increase from the 14.9% in 2014–2015 (Hospital Episode Statistics Analysis, Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2015). The National Collaborating Centre for Women's and Children's Health (2008) suggested that 80% of women disliked pharmacological methods of induction, but that women's choices regarding methods of induction were often limited to a standardised pathway, with substantial reliance on pharmacological methods. Therefore, the process is likely to continue to remain medicalised, with an increased risk of developing complications or needing further intervention. In addition, less than two-thirds of women being induced in 2004-2005 went on to give birth without further intervention, with 22% needing an emergency caesarean section (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2008; Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), 2008).

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