Labour Induction: What Does “Being Induced” Really Mean For Me?
“I am going to be induced on Wednesday so I will be having the baby that day”… If you have had an 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, wam-bam-thank you-ma’am type of experience. But what seems to be left out of pretty much every discussion about induction is the reality of how long it can 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. A medical procedure is preformed with your informed consent and your body is assisted into having cervical changes and/or contractions.
The induction process is started with cervical ripening and moving to contraction augmentation – basically, your cervix has to make some changes before they want to start making you have contractions to move baby down. Inductions are not a one-size fits all type of process and there are many different factors involved in how the induction process begins and continues. One of the ways that your health care team determines where to start with an induction 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 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 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 and preeclampsia is a condition that affects your blood pressure and at least on body system (commonly your kidneys or liver).
Other medical conditions / reasons – each person is unique and has different physical and emotional needs. These can factor into when an induction is discussed.
How Do Inductions Happen?
There are multiple different types of induction methods that could be used depending on what your body is ready for. Again, there are changes that need to happen to your cervix to make it “favourable” before contractions are artificially begun.
Stretch & Sweep – typically offered after 38 weeks and used to help soften cervix and encourage it to open with the stretch.
Rupture of Membranes – Using a small crochet-type hook your water sac (amniotic sac) will be broken.
Balloon Catheter – A small rubber tube (called a catheter) will be inserted into cervix and a small balloon will be inflated to put pressure on and to encourage softening and dilation.
Cervidil, Prostaglandin gel, Misoprostol – These are medication options for induction that are ‘artificial’ (non-human) prostaglandins used to ripen cervix.
Oxytocin drip – Common 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?
Circling back to the first statement in this blog, each person is going to be completely individual when it comes to the length of the induction. Each body will be at a slightly different stage of readiness for labour (using the Bishop’s Score helps to know what this stage is), but 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.
This process isn’t as simple as it’s made out to be – there is so much to it. Knowing the coping and labour techniques for your different stages, pain management options, and what questions to ask your care provider are all 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 and ready to have an Empowered Birth, check out my prenatal course! Where we talk about Inductions in an easy to break down way where both you and your partner will feel knowledgeable and aware of each step.