Induction and synchronised swimming: Mary Cronk words of wisdom

On December 21st 2018, we lost one of midwifery’s heroes, Mary Cronk.  A staunch and strong advocate for women, Mary was a passionate midwife, an inspiring teacher and a famously and delightfully stroppy woman. She was a true radical who taught what many term ‘real midwifery’ and encouraged others to become assertive. In tribute to a wonderful woman and midwife, I am re-sharing this post in which I discussed the wonderful analogy which Mary used to use to explain why induction of labour often didn’t work or took a long time.


I love it when people remind me of brilliant ideas and analogies that I had forgotten.

Sara Wickham’s bestselling book explains the process of induction of labour and shares information from research studies, debates and women’s, midwives’ and doctors’ experiences to help women and families become more informed and make the decision that is right for them.

A while back, one of my post-term pregnancy online course participants reminded me of the wonderful and well-loved midwife Mary Cronk’s analogy about induction of labour. It explains why it is that induction often takes far longer than when women go into labour spontaneously, and also why induction sometimes fails.

Mary would say that to imagine that labour, with all its different factors, like hormones and muscles and so on, is like a synchronised swimming team. It all works really beautifully together, she would say.

But induction of labour?

That is like throwing one of the swimmers in the pool and hoping the rest jump in!

Mary Cronk is also well known for having a collection of phrases which she taught women to use when their rights weren’t being respected, and you can read them here.

In Your Own Time was written to help parents and professionals better understand the issues and the evidence relating to the current induction epidemic. Looks at the evidence relating to due dates, ‘post-term’, older and larger women, suspected big babies, maternal race and more.

photo credit: Kristopher Roller


If you’d like to find out more about induction of labour, we have a post-term pregnancy and induction of labour information hub. Sara has also written a blog post called, “Ten things I wish every woman knew about induction of labour” and two bestselling books about induction: “Inducing Labour: making informed decisions” and “In Your Own Time: how western medicine controls the start of labour and why this needs to stop.”

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