If you’ve been reading the birth stories around you probably heard a lot of horror stories about being induced. Things like, the pain is a million times worse, you will absolutely NEED an epidural, etc. Well, I want to add my story in and reassure you, if you’ve been told you may have or need an induction, for whatever reason, that it won’t necessarily be that bad. I was induced a few days before my son’s due date because of gestational diabetes. They had allowed to go to my due date because it had been well managed through pregnancy, however going over was not on the cards for me, especially because I was noticing decreased movements as well. You can read how I managed my gestational diabetes without insulin here.
This is what you can expect from an induction and how mine went. ..
Usually an induction will be scheduled ahead of time. You will go in on the day, the midwives and doctor overseeing the procedure will ask some questions and check some basic things like your blood pressure, baby’s position and monitor your baby for a while. They will check the cervix, mine was already 2cm dilated when checked at 39 weeks. It was about the same on the day of induction. If your cervix is closed they will generally give other medicines first to soften it, but this didn’t happen for me so I can’t comment on this aspect. If everything is ok to go ahead, they will start you on a low dose of syntocin (pitocin in USA) usually delivered via IV. This hormone, although produced synthetically is the same as the oxytocin your body produces to begin labor.
You should be started on a low dose to get contractions going, after they become regular (and they may place a monitor around your belly to measure them if you’re like me and can’t even feel them) and you’re progressing they will generally break your water.
Although I was anticipating this to be painful, based on other birth stories I had read, i didn’t even feel it. The membrane sweep they had done a few days prior to try and get labor going more naturally was much more painful than actually having my water broken with the plastic hook.
At this point, you’re still just waiting. I did not feel any contractions at all until I was about 9cm dilated. When they did start to get painful my husband pressed on my lower back during contractions to help with pain. I can say that this method was more effective for pain relief than the nitrous oxide they gave me during the pushing phase, which did absolutely nothing and only made me light headed and more exhausted. As I am now almost halfway into my second pregnancy I will make a specific request this time to not offer me any gas because it was only unhelpful.
I had continuous fetal monitoring but it wasn’t particularly useful as it wasn’t picking up my contractions and kept losing the baby’s heartbeat. It was also restricting my movement a lot and I kept getting tangled in the cords, so after a time they changed this to internal fetal monitoring. To put the internal monitor in they will need to reach in and place it on the baby’s head where it is pressing against the cervix. It will allow you to move around more with no cords in the way and is more reliable that the external monitor.
When contractions started getting painful they checked my cervix again and it was 9cm, and they told me to let them know when I started feeling pressure (people often describe it as feeling like they need to poop although I found it to feel somewhat different). When I said I felt this they checked my progress again and I was fully dilated, said I can start pushing with the next contraction.
I had really wanted to labor in the tub but because of the IV and internal monitor they did not allow me to.
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While pushing, his head would come down, into the birth canal and then go back up. I was told this was normal, and helps to stretch things out. Pain was quite bad, although this was mainly from the cramping during contractions. I did not feel anything aside from this (some people had described a ‘ring of fire’ and burning sensations as things stretched, which I did not feel at all). We tried some different positions to see if it helped with pain, but laying on my side caused my sons heart to decelerate (which is bad). So I was restricted to all fours or leaning forward against the bed. The last two contractions were the worst, his head came down and stayed there, literally could feel it between my legs, and then the next one he was delivered with one push. There was a big gush of blood from tearing and the midwife caught my son and handed him to my husband. They stopped the IV and gave me an injection of cyntocin into my thigh to help deliver the placenta. I did not feel the tear at all, mainly just relief that ‘I did it’ and it was over.
They asked me to lay on the bed, as the placenta was still inside me and the cord still attached to my son. I had requested delayed cord clamping, which has many benefits I’d encourage new mothers to look into. When the cord stopped pulsing they clamped it and offered my husband the ‘honors’ of cutting it, which he was a little reluctant to do at first. With a little encouragement he did this, and held my son while they delivered the placenta and stitched me up. Placenta was delivered with ‘controlled cord traction’ which basically means they pull on the umbilical cord evenly (as in, not yanking, just even traction) to speed up the process.
I had a 2nd degree tear and a larger tear which went sideways into the labia. The doctor was skeptical if she could make it look the same before, but after stitching it was rather impressed with herself and the result. The other doctors complimented her stitching which I thought was both humiliating and hilarious at the same time.
I had a short labor for a 1st time mum, just 4hrs in total and just 1hr of active labor (pushing). After I was stitched and everything they placed my son on my chest. He immediately began rooting for my nipple, and found it himself and began to feed. He was a small baby considering I’d had GD, just 3.5kg and was fitting into ‘tiny newborn’ sizes. I had been worried he’d be huge like I was, at birth I was weighing 5kg and had to be delivered by c section. I almost couldn’t believe he was mine, he was perfect. I fell in love instantly.
In spite of what you might read, it’s totally possible to breastfeed your baby without any issues as well. An induction also won’t mean you’ll have a horrible birthing experience. In spite of my initial awkwardness in holding him during feeding, my son knew exactly what to do. All the problems I had anticipated and prepared for never came to pass, both with the induction and having a baby generally. Aside from a few nights he never kept us up, and never cried except for feeding and changing. He’s starting to challenge me more as he’s getting older, but so far I’ve definitely found the newborn phase the easiest.
When reading around just remember that people who have negative experiences will want to talk about them more than those who had no complaints, so I want to share my positive story to give you some encouragement and help ease that new mother anxiety.
What stories did you hear during your first pregnancy that gave you the most anxiety? What were the most helpful? Share your experiences in the comments!