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Labour Induction: What Does “Being Induced” Really Mean?

Updated: Feb 1

Labour Induction: What Does “Being Induced” Really Mean For Me?

“They’re inducing me on Wednesday, so I should have my baby that night.” If you have had a labour induction, you know that may not be the case.

More commonly than not, my Empowered Birth clients start into the course with the thought that ‘being induced’ is a one-day, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am type of experience. However, no one tells you how long it can really take. 

What Does “Being Induced” Mean and How Is It Different From Going Into Labour Spontaneously?

Being Induced is a term that means the process of labour will be started for you if your body has not ‘naturally’ started it on its own. It is a medical procedure that helps your body have cervical changes and/or contractions. Before the procedure, you must give your informed consent before they begin. 

The labour induction process begins with cervical ripening and moves to contraction augmentation. Your cervix has to make some changes before they want you to have contractions to move the baby down. Therefore, inductions are not a one-size-fits-all process. One of the ways that your health care team determines where to start is using the Bishop’s Score (as discussed in this post) to assess the readiness of your cervix.

Why Do I Need To Be Induced?

There are many different reasons that your health care provider might begin to discuss Induction with you. A few of the most common are:

Postdates – You have gone overdue and are approaching the 42-week mark.

PROM – Premature Rupture of Membranes, your water has broken but you have not started into labour after a certain amount of time

Chorioamnionitis – an infection that occurs in the lining of the uterus. Commonly caused by PROM happening and labour not starting for a significant amount of time.

Fetal growth restriction – When the baby is measuring small for gestational age and there are health concerns 

Low amniotic fluid levels – this one sort of says it all, but low fluid levels can cause issues for you and your baby.

Gestational diabetes (GDM)- Very dependent on who your health care provider is and what they practice, sometimes GDM is a reason for care providers to suggest induction. Take a read of this Evidence-Based Birth article for some great info.

Gestational Hypertension GHTN or Preeclampsia – Though different conditions, these can be connected. GHTN is high blood pressure in pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a condition that affects your blood pressure and at least one body system (commonly your kidneys or liver).

Other medical conditions/reasons – each person is unique and has different physical and emotional needs that can be factored in. 

How Do Inductions Happen? 

They can use a variety of induction types depending on what your body can handle. However, your cervix needs to change to make it “favourable” before they can begin artificial contractions.  

Stretch & Sweep – typically offered after 38 weeks and used to help soften the cervix and encourage it to open with the stretch. 

Rupture of Membranes – They’ll break your water sac (amniotic sac) by using a small crochet-type hook.

Balloon Catheter – A small rubber tube (called a catheter) is inserted into the cervix. Then, a small balloon inflates and encourages softening and dilation.

Cervidil, Prostaglandin gel, Misoprostol – These are medication options for induction that are ‘artificial’ (non-human) prostaglandins used to ripen the cervix. 

Oxytocin drip – Commonly referred to as “Pit”, “Pitocin”, or “The Drip”, it is used to stimulate contractions of your uterus. 

How long does it take for labour to start after being induced?

As I mentioned before, each person is going to be different when it comes to their induction. Each body will be at a slightly different stage of readiness for labour. If this is your first baby, or you are not yet to your due date, it will likely take longer to get your baby earth-side. For some, inductions can last upwards of 72 hours. 

There is more to this process than they tell you. You have to know the coping and labour techniques for your different stages and pain management options. What questions to ask your care provider are also essential parts of an induction. 

Read more about what labour will be like in my most popular blog post, Labour Day Breakdown: A Step-By-Step Guide.

If you want to know more and go into your induction feeling prepared, check out my prenatal course! We’ll talk about induction in an easy-to-break-down way. Then, both you and your partner will feel knowledgeable and ready for an Empowered Birth!


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