The best way for a pregnant woman to know if she is ready for labor is by asking her caregiver to calculate her Bishop Score. This is a rating on a scale between 0 and 13 that determines whether a woman’s body is physically ready for labor. Scores of 5 or less would indicate that the woman had an “unfavorable cervix,” meaning that her body is not yet preparing for labor and that she would not be a good candidate for a labor induction. On the other hand, higher scores indicate that the woman’s cervix is beginning to soften, thin (efface) and perhaps even open (dilate), and that she would likely respond readily to an induction.
According to a study done by the Intermountain Health Care Agency (IHCA), which runs a group of hospitals in Utah, the lower the number on the Bishop Score, the higher the chances of a woman’s induced labor ending in a cesarean birth. Their research found that women whose Bishop Score was 0, had an average of more than 19 hours of labor, and had a cesarean birth more than 37% of the time. In contrast, the chart shows that women whose Bishop Scores were 13 had shorter labors, averaging 6 hours, with a 0% chance of a cesarean birth.
What this means in practical terms is that if your caregiver suggests that your labor be induced, or if you are interested in having an elective induction, ask what your Bishop Score is. That will help you decide, based on what is happening naturally in your body, whether you would be a good candidate for a labor induction.