This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for more information.
It is what it sounds like. In labor induction, you will be put into labor. This process may be necessary if you are overdue (pregnancy is going past 41 weeks) or suffering from gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or any medical condition that puts your life or your baby’s at risk. Here are practical tips on how to prepare for labor induction.
Most cases of labor inductions are not planned. Many moms who’ve been induced aren’t expecting it and are often unprepared.
What happens in labor induction?
Do you want to know what to expect in the process? Wondering if you’re likely to become a candidate for this procedure?
In this article, we’re going to look into the causes that give rise to the necessity for labor induction. We will also the benefits of the procedure along with the attached risks. We will share practical tips on induction preparation to give you an idea of what to expect.
Let’s start at the beginning.
What Is Labor Induction?
If you are not in labor, this is the process where you will be put into labor. While most people would say no to it, there are instances where it is necessary.
Picture this scenario. Imagine a woman who is pregnant at a little over 41 weeks. She has poorly controlled gestational diabetes and likely suffering from preeclampsia.
Under these circumstances, labor induction is the ideal thing to do.
If you ask us, we would normally say no to labor induction. There are plenty of risks that induction can bring to the mom and the baby.
But for medical reasons, as what would appear in the illustrated scenario above, labor induction is in the best interest of both mom and baby.
So what are these medical-related instances that will justify labor induction?
- If you are overdue or having a pregnancy that is past 41 weeks
- If you are suffering from gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or cholestasis
- The baby is experiencing intrauterine growth restriction
- You have a personal history of stillbirth
- You have been hospitalized for having your water broken early in the pregnancy
Essentially, any medical condition that puts you or your baby’s life or health in peril is a justifying circumstance for labor induction.
Labor induction May Be Necessary or Elective
Wondering what are the instances when labor induction is necessary and when it is elective? Let’s start with the necessary instances.
When you are beyond your due date and you haven’t started labor naturally, this procedure may be necessary. This is usually common in pregnancies reaching two weeks over the approximate date of delivery.
Premature Rupture of Membrane
If your water broke but you haven’t started labor, induction may be necessary.
This is a condition characterized by having an infection in the uterus. In this case, labor induction is necessary to avert the risk of peril to you and your baby’s life or health.
When there is not enough amniotic fluid enclosing your baby, labor induction is necessary.
Fetal Growth Restriction
When your baby is underweight by 10 percent of what is expected during a particular gestational stage, labor induction may be performed.
When the placenta peels away from the inner wall of the uterus, this can cause potential problems; thus, necessitating labor induction.
Gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, obesity, and kidney disease are among the medical disorders that may call for the need for labor induction.
On the other hand, elective labor induction may be performed for your convenience. For instance, if you live far from a birthing center or medical facility and you have a history of rapid childbirth, you may opt for elective labor induction to avoid an unsupervised or unattended delivery.
A common requirement for elective labor induction is that the baby is at least 39 weeks old.
Is Labor Induction an Option for Everyone?
No, labor induction may only be appropriate in some instances and is not for everyone. Your healthcare provider will have to look into several factors before recommending this action.
Labor induction is not an option if:
- You had a C-section with major uterine surgery or classical incision
- Your placenta is obstructing the cervix
- The baby’s position is sideways or buttocks first
- You have a genital herpes infection
- The umbilical cord emerges into your vagina before delivery
If you previously underwent a C-section and expect to have labor induction, speak to your healthcare provider so he or she will avoid using medications that may increase the risk of uterine rupture.
What Are the Risks of Labor Induction?
One of the risks of inducing labor is the life-threatening emergency situation known as umbilical cord prolapse. Induction techniques may cause the baby’s umbilical cord to slip out of the vagina before the head.
What Will Induce Labor?
There are many options to induce labor. The most common method is using Pitocin. Another commonly resorted method is breaking the water. In some cases, a foley bulb is used to manually attempt dilation. In all other instances, different medications are used to induce labor.
Let’s briefly discuss each of the four methods.
1. Pitocin Labor Induction
This medication is the synthetic version of oxytocin, a naturally occurring substance typically found in women.
Pitocin is introduced into the body intravenously through your arm. This substance sends will signals that you are in labor.
If the desired outcome is not yet achieved (i.e; you have not been induced into labor), the nurse will gradually increase the level of Pitocin until you will have regular contractions every two or three minutes.
When contractions occur, the nurse will adjust the level of Pitocin. If the contractions are too fast or too strong, the nurse will limit the flow of the substance or shut it off completely. In many cases, the Pitocin is enough to kick off labor.
How to Prepare for Induced Labor Using Pitocin?
A Pitocin labor induction will not start unless the cervix is “favorable” or already geared for labor. The substance will not be able to change the cervix; it can only induce contractions. So if the cervix is not prepped for labor, the induced contractions won’t help in inducing labor.
What are the signs of a favorable cervix?
Normally, the cervix is closed and thick when you are nowhere to ready to give birth. But when you are about to deliver your child, it will be dilated and effaced.
When your body is getting ready for labor, your cervix will begin to soften and open. It will follow a “rotating” pattern to get into the ideal position for letting your baby out.
Think of the cervix as a car engine; you need to warm it up first before going. Only when it is prepped and ready that you’re going to proceed with a Pitocin labor induction.
2. Breaking the Water
The second method of inducing labor is highly common. It’s breaking the water. Many medical institutions and birthing centers use this technique first before resorting to other means. In several instances, Pitocin is used in conjunction with this labor induction method.
If you want to induce labor, it helps to speed up the process by breaking your water. This will cause the baby to come down into your pelvis, resulting in more pressure on the cervix; thus, creating a “favorable” cervix.
Breaking your water also causes the release of prostaglandins, which can stimulate changes in your cervix.
If you’ll notice, this and the Pitocin method are all about preparing the cervix, warming it up and ready before letting out the baby.
3. Foley Bulb Induction For Labor
We mentioned prostaglandins in the second method. In this technique, prostaglandins are stimulated for release. To do that, healthcare providers will use a little catheter known as the foley bulb.
What the healthcare providers do is manually insert this apparatus inside the cervix to dilate it, stimulating the release of prostaglandins. This labor induction technique may be performed along with the Pitocin method as well as a variety of medications that are designed to prepare the cervix for delivery.
How to Prepare for an Induction Using the Foley Bulb Method?
The best thing about using a foley bulb to induce labor is that there are no needles to go inside you. The only purpose of a needle is to extract fluid that is drawn up by the foley bulb.
Imagine a McDonald’s straw. That’s about the same thickness as the foley bulb. Similarly, the foley bulb is bendy and flexible.
On one end of the foley bulb is an opening, which lets the healthcare providers hook up a syringe; on the other, a balloon-like apparatus that can be filled with liquid. This balloon-like mechanism is that part that is inserted into your cervix.
Preparing for induction using a foley bulb may require you to get into a lithotomy position. This will allow the healthcare provider to feed the foley bulb through your vagina and inserting it into your cervix. Expect a bit of discomfort, cramping, or contractions after this process.
Once the foley bulb is positioned into the cervix, it will be filled with water. There it will stay between 30 minutes and 12 hours, depending on how dilated you were at the start.
Preparing for induced labor using a foley bulb may be performed along with Pitocin.
4. Medications to Induce Labor
There are different medicines that may be used for labor induction preparation. Most of these substances are inserted through the vagina, similar to how a foley bulb is introduced into the body. The objective is the same as well—to prep your cervix.
These medications include Cytotec, Cervadil, and Laminaria.
How to Prepare for Labor Induction
If this is your first baby, you will need to go to the hospital or birthing center at night if you’re scheduled for induced labor in the morning. The purpose is to have your cervix prepped.
On the other hand, if you have had a baby before, you can arrive at the hospital a couple of hours ahead of your schedule.
Upon your arrival at the medical facility, the healthcare provider will ask you a couple of preliminary questions on any of the following matters:
- The frequency of contractions you’re having, if any
- The likelihood of leaking any fluid
- The baby’s movement
- Whether or not there has been bleeding.
If the healthcare provider has ascertained that there is no immediate threat to you and your baby’s health, the labor induction procedure may proceed.
Tips for a Positive Labor Induction Experience
Labor inductions are usually a long and protracted process. You may settle in in the morning yet deliver the baby late in the evening. In some cases, it may even take longer than that. So you better be ready for a lot of waiting.
Make sure you bring all the stuff you need to avoid boredom. During the day time you can read a book or magazine or watch TV; bring your laptop too. In the evening, if it helps you sleep, have an eye mask and ear plugs.
Wondering what to eat before getting induced? It is important to stay nourished and hydrated, but don’t eat too much. Indulge in light snacks; preferably food that’s easy to digest and can give you the energy during the birthing process. Ask your nurse or healthcare provider what food can you have.
Don’t be completely sedentary during the waiting stage. You might need to move and change positions while in bed. Staying in the same position might impede your baby’s movement to get into an ideal position for birth.
If you can, stand up and walk around the room. Or you can do a dance with your partner, gently rocking and swaying away to a slow rhythm.
In many cases, labor induction is a means to a successful vaginal birth. Should it fail, your healthcare provider may try another round of labor induction or proceed with a C-section.
That’s pretty much what you need to know about labor induction preparation. Have you experienced this before or will this be a new experience for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.