Given that a third of women in the U.K. will be induced (often just for going over due dates) it’s no surprise that INDUCTION gets so much airtime. Like a lot birth-related topics, there is a lot of fear and negative stories about being induced, so here is what you need to know about making an informed decision around induction of labour and how to prepare for a more positive experience…
Induction Yes or No?
Like everything else, the decision to have or not have an induction is completely YOURS to make. A few considerations that might help: ⠀
Take some time to talk it through with your birth partner, there is no rush to make a decision at the antenatal clinic⠀
Use the ‘BRAIN’ acronym to find out as much information about it from your midwife - What are the Benefits? Risks? Alternatives? What is my Instinct telling me to do? What if we do Nothing? ⠀
The NICE guidelines (page 5) clearly state that induction needs to be clinically justified (i.e. a pregnancy complication or medical issue). Find out about your own situation, often inductions are done just because it’s the hospital’s protocol to induce when going a certain number of days past your due date!⠀
There are always alternatives e.g. more frequent monitoring instead ⠀
Be prepared to be given an induction date at your 40 or 41 weeks appointment. With my first born I found it incredibly stressful to have the induction date looming over me, this did not help my oxytocin to flow! So with my son, I was offered to be booked in and declined. It is completely up to you. No one will refuse you an induction if you would like one or change your mind multiple times etc. ⠀
Inform yourself about the induction process at your local hospital - women are often poorly informed e.g. synthetic contractions are much more powerful and intense than natural ones ⠀
I have decided to have an induction, now what?
An induction is no walk in the park, far from it (and there’s unfortunately no way of predicting how your body and baby will react to the synthetic oxytocin that is administered to start contractions) but there are definitely things you can do to help you feel more prepared, positive and calm... So if you have decided that induction is the right choice for you and your baby, here are some suggestions to help make it a more empowering experience:
Find out what your CHOICES are so you know what to expect e.g. What is the induction process at your local hospital? Can you go home with the pessary in place (first stage of induction)? Can your birth partner be present throughout? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Focus on what you can control: your birth environment. Remembering that the hospital room is yours to transform as you please for the duration of labour. Think home comforts and comfort measures e.g. essential oils, dim lighting, fairy lights, hypnobirthing tracks or relaxing music, the best snacks etc. This will all help to feel safe, relaxed and unobserved - and therefore help the process along ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Line up plenty of funny videos, box sets, podcasts and magazines for the first stage (i.e. waiting for the vaginal tablet/gel to work) which can take a while ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Find out about wireless monitoring (telemetry) if for any reason your baby needs to be continuously monitored in labour. This lets you move around more freely and can even be used in water⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Keep moving and changing positions even if continuously monitored/on a drip e.g. sitting upright propped up by cushions, sitting on a ball/chair, squatting, kneeling, leaning forward or simply moving your hips/pelvis every few minutes ⠀
Listen to your Hypnobirthing tracks and relaxation scrips throughout labour, and use your breathing techniques to keep yourself as relaxed as possible and the oxytocin flowing, to help the process along ⠀
Treat each step of the induction process as a new decision, using the BRAIN tool and taking your time to make the decision that feels right for you. Just because you agreed to the first step (the pessary) doesn’t mean you have to agree to everything - you can still decline at any stage, ask for more time or alternatives ⠀
If you were set on a particular type of birth and have decided for whatever reason to have an induction, give yourself time and space to let go of your original expectations and birth plan, if you had one. Spend some time writing some new birth preferences/birth plan, focusing on how you can make it as relaxing and positive as possible - you still have lots of choices and options. Discuss these with your birth partner and midwife so you are on the same page⠀
Remember that you can absolutely have a positive birth experience - feeling informed, in control, supported and part of the decision-making process has a lot to do with it. As Milli Hill says:
You can have the most BRILLIANT BIRTH after a hospital induction.
You can have the most FANTASTIC ELECTIVE CAESAREAN.
You can have an epidural and still be the goddess you deserve to be.
The key is not in the choices you make, but in feeling at all times that
YOU HAVE CHOICES." - Milli Hill