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Preparing for a labor induction can feel scary. For some mamas, it’s 100% unexpected while for others it’s planned. No matter why you end up having a labor induction, it’s important to know the basics of how to prepare for labor induction — that’s what we’ll cover in this article.
You can never be TOO prepared in the world of birthing a child, after all, there still tends to be much that falls unexpected anyways.
When labor induction is an option for you, be sure to discuss all of your questions and concerns with your healthcare provider in advance. This will help give you time to prepare and really understand the pros and cons of labor induction.
What is labor induction?
There are a few reasons your doctor may recommend inducing labor. Labor induction means to medically induce (using medicine or other methods) your body into contracting to stimulate labor.
For instance, when I was induced into labor during my first pregnancy, it’s because my water had been leaking for at least 3 days before being admitted to labor & delivery.
Since my amniotic sac had a “leak” (small tear), this greatly increased my risk of infection not only for me but for my baby as well. And because I was not having strong or steady enough contractions to begin labor on its own, it was medically necessary for my labor team to induce me with Pitocin to get things going.
Other reasons you may end up having or being recommended a labor induction could include:
- Being past your due date with no signs of labor starting on their own
- Having an early water break/leak
- Having cholestasis in your pregnancy
- You have or developed pre-eclampsia
- You suffer from another condition or high-risk complication throughout your pregnancy
Another thing to keep in mind is that before induction can begin, you need to show that your cervix is softening, opening, and thinning.
If you’re showing 0 signs of cervical ripening, then your delivery team will likely need to do some cervical preparation work FIRST before inducing you.
Pros and cons of inducing labor with Pitocin
I mentioned Pitocin earlier (which is how I was induced during my first pregnancy). It’s probably one of the most common methods of induction, but do you know what it is and what the pros and cons actually are?
When being induced with Pitocin, you will need to have an intravenous catheter placed since the medication will be going via IV. From there, your nurse will typically start you on a low dose and titrate the amount administered depending on how your body is reacting.
From my personal experience, I know we ended up going up towards what’s considered a ‘high dose’ to get those contractions started because my body was not having it.
After still not reacting the best to the Pitocin, it was then decided to break my water completely. This is also known as another form of ‘induction’ by the way.
As much as I appreciate medicine and the ability to have intervention if and when needed, it’s also important to understand the pros and cons of a Pitocin induction.
PROS of Pitocin:
- can help speed up labor (in the event of a high-risk situation)
- can help speed up placenta delivery and decrease some postpartum bleeding
- helps jump-start labor that has stalled for various reasons
CONS of Pitocin:
- decreased fetal heart rate (needing more monitoring)
- overstimulating the uterus (contractions)
- painful contractions
- unable to move around due to monitoring needed
- likely to become more tired or exhausted quicker (because you won’t be able to eat and may end up getting an epidural due to the painful contractions)
How long does it take to give birth after being induced?
Depending on the method of induction that your provider chooses (and keep in mind we focused on the most common one for this post, Pitocin), you could begin feeling contractions as soon as 10 minutes up to a couple of hours!
After asking my own OB and doing some research of my own, there really is not a set-in-stone time frame that says “From the time you get induced, you will give birth in XXX minutes”.
Unfortunately, all of our bodies are different. All of our pregnancies are different. And the way we react to medications is also different.
I think the most important thing to remember is that even if you just want that baby out right away, it’s ok for it to take some time.
Experiencing and going through birth (especially a somewhat complicated one the first time around) taught me that NOTHING is guaranteed to go as planned.
Labor induction checklist/preparation list – how to prepare for labor induction:
If you know ahead of time you’ll be planning for an induction for various purposes, you should have things ready such as:
- Have your hospital bag packed & ready to go.
- Eat a light, healthy meal before your scheduled induction (or per doctor’s instruction).
- Be sure to ask about your options for pain control.
- Inquire about the plan IN THE EVENT induction isn’t working for you.
- Be prepared to sit in your hospital bed with constant or frequent monitoring.
If you aren’t sure whether or not you’ll need an induction you should still follow the list above, but also start asking your doctor during those last appointments some of the following questions:
- What are my chances of needing an induction?
- If I need to be induced, what methods do you typically perform?
- What are my pain control options if I need to be induced?
- How long will I be allowed to labor after induction before moving onto another method if it’s not working?
- What are my specific risks when considering an induction?
By asking those questions ahead of time, you’ll probably feel MUCH more prepared should you find yourself at the hospital assuming you’re going to labor naturally just to be hit with a roadblock and end up needing an induction.
Ways to go into labor at home
If you’re creeping up on those final days of pregnancy, most of us start feeling the itch to get labor started!
We’re tired of lugging around our big ol’ bellies and feeling pretty ouchie by now.
HOWEVER, please don’t try these methods without consulting your doctor! I know I mentioned it above, but I want to emphasize the importance of working closely with your medical team for your safety and baby!
And if you have any pregnancy complications or are considered high-risk, do NOT try these methods!
Nipple stimulation can cause your body to release that wonderful hormone, Oxytocin. As we learned earlier, Oxytocin is responsible for helping our uterus contract and in turn jump-starting labor!
However, you do have to be somewhat aggressive with your nipple stimulation. Some recommend using your breast pump periodically if you have one.
But it’s also important to note that this can potentially cause contractions that don’t lead to labor.
Drinking red raspberry leaf tea
According to one study done by Planta Med, they found that one of the plant’s compounds known as “fragarine” helps to tone, tighten, and prep the pelvic muscles, including your uterus, which in turn can help with a shorten labor and possibly reduce interventions.
Although various studies are showing the possibilities that red raspberry leaf tea can be beneficial when consumed in the 2nd & 3rd trimester of pregnancy, there still isn’t enough evidence to 100% lean towards a definitive conclusion.
However, the American Pregnancy Association DOES, in fact, list red raspberry leaf tea as a ‘beneficial herbal tea’ to consume throughout pregnancy, so it might be worth a shot!
I can tell you that I personally didn’t drink it as often with my first pregnancy, but I have been consuming it regularly with my second. If I end up having wonderous labor this time around, I’ll be sure to come back and update this post!
This is the red raspberry leaf tea I’ve been using in case you were wondering (the taste is yummy so I’m hopeful to experience the benefits):
Bouncing on a yoga ball
The idea behind using a yoga birth ball during your final weeks of pregnancy is to help the baby descend further down into your pelvis, allowing their head to put pressure on your cervix and basically say “hey, start ripening because I’m ready to come out now”.
This is actually a technique I learned in an online birthing class I took this time around called Birth It Up. It’s a birthing class taught by an experienced labor & delivery nurse and it blew me away with all the information inside!
You’ll want to make sure you keep your legs wide (think – hips open) to really help drive baby down as you gently bounce on the ball. The yoga ball technique will definitely be one trick I try out this time around!
Liesel (the creator of Birth It Up) was kind enough to give me a discount code to share with you all! You can sign up for the EPIDURAL birth course or the NATURAL birth course and use code: MOMAFTERBABY to save 10% off your purchase!
The idea behind using sex to induce labor has 2 different theories.
One is that the act of sex will increase your Oxytocin levels, therefore leading to contractions and heading into labor. Although just because you end up with contractions doesn’t mean they’ll be enough to induce labor.
The other theory is that semen can help to ripen your cervix to help prepare it for labor. Again, these are all just theories and I wasn’t able to locate any real studies indicating one way or the other with this one.
However, I did want to point out that you should always get your doctor’s approval before going too crazy with this one. And if your water has broken, you should definitely steer clear of any intercourse.
Now, you should have a better understanding of what labor induction entails. Plus, some at-home remedies to induce labor (with your doctor’s approval, of course). If labor induction is a consideration for you, what are you most nervous about?
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