The Best Induction

5 Tips for the Best Induction of Labor Possible

Man holding a laboring woman's hand in the hospital
Photo © Collection Mix: Subjects/Getty Images

The induction of labor is an intervention that is on the rise, both for medical and non-medical reasons. That said, if you are having an induction of labor, you’re probably hoping for the best case scenario for labor, even if all you hear from others are nothing but horror stories. These five tips will help you have the best induction of labor possible.

  • Know Your Cervix
    Before you try to do an induction of labor, you’ll need to know a bit about your cervix. Your doctor or midwife will do a vaginal exam to get this information and calculate how likely an induction is to bring on labor, called the Bishops Score. This includes:
    • Dilation (how open your cervix is)
    • Effacement (how long it is)
    • Station (how low is baby)
    • Position (which way is it angled)
    • Consistency (how firm or soft)
    It’s easier to get a cervix to open that is ready or ripe for birth. Each of the points above is scored as a 0, 1 or 2. The higher the number, the more likely your cervix will open easily and that labor will begin. If this number is low, you may need to have treatments for cervical ripening before an induction is considered.
  • Ask About Your Options
    There is more than one way to do an induction of labor. You have many options. Not every option is right for every woman. What goes into this decision will be:
    • The reason for induction
    • Conditions inside the uterus (amniotic fluid volume, baby’s position, etc.)
    • Maternal conditions (preexisting complications, VBAC status, number of babies previously born, etc.)
    • Practitioner preference
    • Maternal preference
    Since some options, like breaking the bag of waters (amniotomy), can start a clock that may lead to more interventions, these may be lower on your list of ways to start labor.
  • Know Your Dates
    Statistically speaking, the closer you are to your due date, the easier it is to get labor going. This is because the body and your baby are closer to being ready. Sometimes a woman will show up for an induction and already be in the early stages of labor. In this case, the procedures are actually an augmentation of labor that has already truly begun.

    When your due date is not well known or prior to 39 weeks, the risks are very high for your baby and should not be considered without significant medical reasons for induction. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have called for an end to elective induction of labor prior to week 39.

  • Keep Your Balance
    While you may be excited to finally be on the road to meeting your baby, you may also be concerned about an induction of labor. This is a normal way to feel. Discuss your concerns with your practitioner before going in for an induction. Talk about possible scenarios and know what the options are for you and your baby.

    Ask questions about the proposed induction procedures:

    • Will you be able to still move around?
    • Will this method require that you have constant fetal monitoring or only brief periods?
    • What are the likely risks and benefits of each intervention?
    • How long would we try this before trying something else?
    • What happens if this method doesn't work? What's the next step?
    Believe it or not, induction is not an exact science. This means that not every method will work the same way, nor will it necessarily be a fast process.

    Once at the hospital, you may need to adopt a more go with the flow attitude, but that doesn’t mean that you have to give everything up from the get go. You still have options and choices. For example, if not using pain relief was important to you, an induction does not mean that you have to accept pain relief. Many women are able to keep parts of their birth plans intact, despite induction of labor, with the proper planning, practitioner support and labor support.

  • Find Support
    Don’t forget to have help. Many women do find induced labors to be very different than spontaneous labor. Though I’d hazard a guess that the mental and emotional factor is a large part of this toll, meaning support from your family and doula, as well as the medical staff that you have, will be vital to how you think and feel about your birth.

Induction of labor can be a positive experience. Keeping your eyes open and your mind realistic are the keys to being helping you achieve that balance.

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