So you’ve just made it to 39 weeks, you’ve finished up your childbirth classes and your bag is packed. You’re counting the days until contractions begin and you can head into the hospital, excitedly awaiting the arrival of your baby. Just like the movies right? But then your doctor or midwife tells you that you need an induction. What!?! That definitely wasn’t in your birth plan. So what does this mean and what can you expect?
At Overlake we follow evidenced-based guidelines that dictate NOT inducing unless it’s medically necessary. This means if your provider wants to induce labor there’s a very good reason for it. Some common reasons for induction include gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, fetal growth restriction, low amniotic fluid levels, post-date gestation (over 41 weeks), etc.
How long will it take?
When the date for your induction comes around, plan for a very long day (or two!!). If your cervix isn’t dilated (or favorable) and this is your first baby, expect that you’ll spend many hours on the Labor & Delivery Unit. Bring something to keep you entertained – books, magazines, iPad, snacks (if your provider allows food). And of course, bring your labor bag in with you – you’ll need that too!
What will be used to induce me?
There are a few options we use at Overlake for induction. Depending on the dilation of your cervix, your provider will choose the best option for you – there’s no “one size fits all” prescription for induction. If your cervix is closed and not in the process of softening yet, your provider may need to first “ripen” your cervix or get it ready and receptive to induction medications. To ripen the cervex we sometimes use a prostaglandin medication – Cytotec or Prepidil. We occasionally use a balloon device to mechanically dilate your cervix; this is a safe and simple method without the potential side effects of medications.
If your cervix is already favorable for labor, you may only need Pitocin. Pitocin is a synthetic form of your body’s natural hormone oxytocin. We give Pitocin prudently and do our best to only give what your body needs for adequate contractions. It’s infused through an IV and is carefully titrated on an IV pump.
The important thing to keep in mind is that this process isn’t immediate! There’s time to get settled in, meet your nurse, monitor how your baby is doing and ask questions. The majority of the time it takes hours for you to feel anything different and for labor to start. We know that this is an uncertain time for you and probably not what you were expecting. We’re here to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the process step-by-step. Remember, though you may not get to experience rushing to the hospital after a long night of spontaneous contractions, you will still meet your beautiful and healthy baby. That’s our most important job.