Ferguson’s Reflex


Other Known AliasesFetus Ejection Reflex

DefinitionStimulation of the cervix leading to contraction of the uterus through oxytocin release.

Clinical SignificanceDemonstrates positive feedback during labor and delivery to increase uterine contractions as cervical dilation progresses. Long standing belief that epidural anesthesia before cervical dilation increased risk of cesarean section (this was debunked in 2005).

History – Given to Dr. James Ferguson, a Canadian obstetrician, in 1940 after he showed this physiologic effect in rabbits and postulated it to be true in humans.


  1. Firkin BG and Whitwirth JA.  Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. 2nd ed.  New York, NY; Parthenon Publishing Group. 1996.
  2. Wong CA, Scavone BM, Peaceman AM. The risk of cesarean delivery with neuraxial analgesia given early versus late in labor. The New England journal of medicine. 2005;352(7):655-65. [pubmed]
  3. Newton N.  The fetus ejection reflex revisited.  Birth.  1987;14(2):106-108.

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