If you are facing a medically necessary induction you may feel very confused or overwhelmed by the options. There are many induction techniques that you may use at home or in the hospital. Knowing the benefits and risks of each will help you to be a more informed consumer of your care.
Please note that only some risks are listed and a thorough investigation into the full risks of each is warranted and a lengthy discussion with your provider is essential to make the best informed decisions.
Natural induction techniques are often things you can do at home to help nudge you into labor. Some are more well known and some may seem like old wives tales.
Old Wives Tales
There are many other methods that some claim to be effective in starting labor. In the end, if the baby isn’t ready to be born, these natural methods likely won’t work. Talk with your provider and find out if your should try these options first if you are facing a medical induction.
Medical Induction Techniques
Amniotomy or breaking of the waters
Many of these options can be used to push the body into labor by causing cervical changes, and contractions. They are often paired up together, and can cause extra pain. This can lead to the cascade of interventions.
Being educated helps you to make informed choices regarding which options you are comfortable with. This can help you and your partner navigate through labor. There are so many options and different interventions that can be offered to you during birth.
I encourage you and your partner to take an independent childbirth class and empower yourself with knowledge. If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any. Don’t let fear get in your way. You can have an amazing birth!
I encourage you to watch this Ted Talk to learn more about the benefits of allowing labor to start on its own and why it matters how we are born.
Are you facing an induction? What should you know?
While a woman is nearing the end of her pregnancy, labor is likely on her mind a lot. There are so many things to think about and prepare for. If you are like me, a nurse, you have researched and learned as much as you can about the actual event of labor. No one can determine what your labor will be like or start like. Sometimes the topic of induction comes up as you creep towards the end of your pregnancy. Lets learn why…
All women are given a due date that the baby is expected to be born around. This date isn’t an evacuation agreement that you have made with your little babe. It is more of an estimation and based usually on your last menstrual period or size estimations of the baby during ultrasound. This date is an estimate. (If you were given 2 differing dates, try and negotiate for the later date if possible.) Most babies are born between 38 and 42 weeks gestation. Anything in that 4 week period is normal. I repeat, normal! Imagine how popcorn pops... some come early, most come around the middle, and some after the big surge. Babies do the same thing, they don't know what date they were given, they choose their own birth date!
When would one sign up for induction?
Once you are nearing the 40 week mark, many providers will start questioning you about induction and set a date if you do go over 42 weeks, some even sooner. Do you have to induce before 42? Well, not exactly unless there is a medical reason. Imagine you are trying to eat an unripe peach. It doesn’t work very well. It is hard, and not sweet. It is a disappointment, you just don’t want to do it. Why wouldn’t you just wait a few more days until it is perfect and ready to eat? That is similar to thinking about inducing you when your body is not “ripe.” Induction will be more difficult, may require interventions and could cause fetal distress. What signs do you have that you are ready for labor?
Will your body respond well to induction?
There are a few things that can be assessed that give you a better idea if your body will respond well to induction. Providers often will assess the Bishop score. This assesses cervical dilation, effacement, and station of the baby. If you are starting to have a more favorable Bishop score, in theory, your body will respond better to induction. But, if you do not appear to be favorable, it could be a long and hard induction. Like trying to falsely ripen a peach.
What are the benefits of going into labor naturally?
When our bodies are ready for labor, and the baby is ready, labor just proceeds better. It often leads to shorter, easier births and the baby tolerates this better. You may not need as many interventions and labor progress just as it should.
What should you know if you are facing an induction?
If you are facing a medical induction learn about the Bishop score and have those conversations with your provider. Look into natural induction techniques first and learn which medical techniques you would be comfortable with and in what order. I believe everything has a time and place. It is just about learning what is the least risky option in the moment.
Click here to read part two which lists out some natural and medical induction techniques. You can’t give informed consent if you do not know your options. Learn all about labor and know your options by signing up for a birth class!
Paige Goldade - A Birth Boot Camp Instructor living and loving in South Dakota. She is a wife and mother of two rambunctious toddlers. She works as a childbirth educator and Board Certified Registered Nurse.