A Foley bulb, also known as a Foley balloon or cervical ripening balloon, is a medical device used to induce labor or prepare the cervix for certain medical procedures, such as a cervical biopsy or dilation and curettage (D&C). It consists of a soft, flexible balloon that is inserted into the cervix and then filled with sterile water to exert gentle pressure on the cervix.
The purpose of the Foley bulb is to stimulate the cervix to dilate and efface (thin out) by mechanically stretching and putting pressure on it. This can help to initiate labor or make it easier to access the uterus for medical procedures. Once the cervix is sufficiently dilated or the desired medical intervention is complete, the Foley bulb is deflated and removed.
Using a Foley bulb is a common method for cervical ripening, especially when a pregnant person’s cervix is not yet ready for labor induction. It is considered a relatively safe and effective technique when performed by a healthcare professional.