After last’s weeks post about why you do sometimes need interventions, I’ve been getting asked about induction so I thought it would be helpful to provide some information about what you need to know about planning an induction.
WHAT IS AN INDUCTION?
An induction is where the labour process is artificially started either using a pessary or gel containing prostaglandin or, more recently, a Foley catheter which slowly dilates the cervix. These can often be enough to get labour started. Sometimes, however, some women are offered a hormone drip (Syntocinon) which is made up of artificial oxytocin.
IS AN INDUCTION RIGHT FOR YOU?
It’s worth identifying if induction is the right for you. This is discussed in 101 Questions About Birth in the Resources Bundle – get a copy of that as it will help you. If you’re unsure – ask loads of questions from your midwife, consultant and ask in our Facebook community too. It’s worth being 100% sure that it’s the right choice for you. You need to remember that you are being “offered” induction.
MEDICAL NEED vs ROUTINE
It’s important to ask lots of questions to ensure it’s the right decision for you. Induction is needed many times for MEDICAL reasons. Induction, however, is also offered many times with no medical need but for routine reasons such as being 10 days past your due date, advanced maternal age, suspected big baby – without taking into account Mum’s own health.
For example, if a mum is 40 but very fit and active – she will encouraged to be induced for falling into the “advanced maternal age” bracket. Yet a women who is 24 and is not fit/active and doesn’t lead a healthy lifestyle – won’t be offered it yet might have more underlying health issues and difficulties giving birth. They aren’t comparable as women – yet the 40 year old is encouraged to be induced for her age alone and no other risk factors. This is why individual care is so important and it’s not done on a blanket basis for a population.
WHAT’S THE BIG ISSUE AROUND INDUCTION – WHAT’S ALL THE FUSS?
Induction is a one of those things that there’s a lot of controversy about as it initiates a labour artificially. As such, it can do more harm that good. In many instances, induction goes relatively smoothly, there are just as many incidences when it doesn’t.
The induction process can be a long, drawn out and anxiety ridden experience. It can take significant amount of time (i.e. days) for the pessary/gels etc to start to work.
There are so many risks with the induction process – including painful labour as the contractions come on too strongly, possible fetal distress, increased likelihood for a caesarean or surgical delivery (i.e. forceps, episiotomy etc). Many women can end up feeling really traumatised by their overall experience. The use of the hormone drip is now being associated with depression/mental health problems including feeding and bonding issues.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A POSSIBLE INDUCTION
- Fill yourself up with positive birth stories around induction – there are many
- Get a copy of the hospital’s induction policy so you are completely aware of what the process is
- Understand why an induction is different to normal labour – here’s a really good post
- Rest, rest, rest, rest – including when you’re waiting for induction to start – sleep as much as you possibly can until you’re at a point you can sleep no more – ear plugs and eye mask are very helpful
- Eat well – eat good nutritious food until you are told that you are no longer allowed to eat (dependent on hospital and if you need an epidural or not) – think about marathon runners – what do they eat to get them ready (NB: It’s not tea and toast)?
- Work on your mindset – what is your mindset about induction? Clear any blocks or fears that you might have.
- Learn how to disassociate yourself from the environment so you can relax – there’s loads of really good apps now for relaxation in pregnancy and birth – take in some headphones and listen whilst you’re getting ready for the process and through the process
- If you don’t already have additional birth support, then consider getting some in… ideally a doula who has experience of supporting an induction, but equally it might be a friend/sister/mum as it might be a long process for your partner to keep strong throughout
- Map out all the options and scenarios such as:
- Think about your birth plans – what about post birth – what are the specifics that are really important to you still? What elements are non-negotiable? If you end up having a caesarean – what do you know? How have you planned it?
- Have you communicated with your birth partner all that you know and your birth plans?
- Remember to keep working on having the right environment around you so that you can still have a lovely birth
- Don’t forget postnatal support – you might need extra assistance post birth – make sure you have that in place
YOU CAN STILL HAVE AN AMAZING BIRTH EXPERIENCE
By really investigating induction, understanding the process in depth, researching it, planning it, thinking it through – you can still have an amazing birth experience. Birth isn’t so much what happens on the day, but how you felt about it. If you can reflect that you knew what was coming, that you knew how to handle it, that you were still the one who made the decisions – you can often still feel good about your birth.
It’s when we don’t feel in control, or things are done to us without our understanding that we struggle with our birth experience. No one wants to feel that they’ve been on a conveyor belt of care. That’s no way to start motherhood.
HOW CAN WE HELP YOU AT THE ACADEMY?
We can help you get fully ready for your birth so you know the questions to ask, feel in control, and get the right support for your birth partner. We have the following available to you.
- Download our FREE Resources Bundle today
- Enrol on our FREE Birth Plans Bundle
- Sign up for Birth Bundle and Caesarean Bundle
- Join our Facebook group and ask questions
How you give birth will last with you throughout your lifetime – it’s worth making it the most brilliant experience it can be.
Much love, Tricia xx