If you are reading this, you are probably a mom-to-be in her last days of pregnancy. Because when you’re past due, it’s not uncommon for moms to be wondering how to prepare for labor induction.
There are all sorts of emotions and thoughts running through your head. You are mentally and physically drained. You are just waiting for your baby’s arrival. But your estimated due date has come and gone with no baby in sight.
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Now you are faced with the “I” word – induction.
I’ve been in your shoes. With my first pregnancy I researched a reasonable amount of information about birth. My husband and I took the customary hospital led birthing class. I knew I wanted to try for an unmedicated birth. Based on my (mostly internet-led) research, I also knew that unmedicated and induction didn’t necessarily go hand in hand. But I stuck my head in the sand and assumed all was well because MY baby would come on her own.
As the days went by, I was faced with the reality that I needed to make a choice. At my 39 week appointment, the doctor nonchalantly asked if I would like to schedule an induction and I bristled. I said I wanted to wait (thankyouverymuch).
Another week went by and here I was in the doctor’s office once again being asked the same question. I didn’t know how to answer. I was told I could wait, but needed to complete a nonstress test (NST) in the meantime.
Again, I naively thought I had time. We went to the NST, all seemed well. Another doctor counseled me on the importance of not waiting too long, and gave me the number to call L&D to schedule an induction. I talked with my husband, I worried, I cried. Eventually I called to schedule for that Friday morning. I still thought she would come before then.
In the meantime I did ALL the things to try to get labor started. You know the things. I scoured the internet some more.
Let me tell you, that was my biggest mistake.
All I read were messages of contempt for inductions. That babies came when they were ready. That pitocin contractions were far worse, leading to the “cascade of interventions.” I freaked. In tears I called L&D Thursday to reschedule, pushing it back one day.
We went to the hospital early Saturday morning, at 41 weeks and 3 days. I was so nervous and started feeling panicky. The midwife had come in to introduce herself. She knew I was nervous. She took my hands and straight up told me no one was forcing me to do this.
I could go home if I wanted, it was my decision. But, in their experience it was best to get baby out before anything went wrong. That NSTs are all well and good, until they aren’t. And that’s when it can become an emergency situation.
Through my choked back tears, I finally felt myself let go. She gave me the best pep talk I could have hoped for. And we proceeded.
I know every induction is different, just as all births are different. Mine, however, ended up working beautifully and my body cooperated. From the time my water broke on its own (3 hours after pitocin was started) to when my daughter was born, was less than 4 hours.
And yes, I successfully had an unmedicated birth! It is possible. So if you are faced with this decision, how can you make the best of it?
Let’s talk about some of the best ways for how to prepare for labor induction. These are some ideas that worked well for me:
Bring Comfort Items
This piece of advice is applicable for any birth, especially at a hospital where the environment can be less than relaxing and comfortable. When you go in for an induction, however, this is even more important.
Unlike heading to the hospital in active labor, you arrive with the probability of having a lot of time on your hands. One of my best friends experienced a multi-day induction before I gave birth, and she stressed the importance of bringing entertainment! I took this to heart and packed games, books, magazines, crossword puzzles, and a laptop to watch Netflix.
Beyond entertainment, make sure you bring comfort items from home. Some nice things to have would be your own pillow, a comfortable robe and slippers/socks, or any other specific item that gives you comfort. I also brought other pain management items such as lavender essential oil, a back massager, and I even packed a flameless candle! Oh – and bring snacks!!
My own labors were so fast and furious I didn’t use much of the items I brought with me, but I 100% believe in being prepared!
Know Your Options
Going into birth with an idea of what you want is important, no matter if you end up being induced or not. While some people say birth plans are often overkill, I think the idea of having a rough plan for your preferences is essential. It doesn’t have to be novel (and it probably shouldn’t), but a one page checklist is helpful.
You can find all sorts of resources online on what you can include in your birth plan, but there were just a few items I found important to jot down. The hospital I gave birth at also had a template that did a great job covering the bases.
I noted that I did not want to be given or offered pain medication unless I explicitly asked, as well as a few other details I wanted to include in my birth. I also gave answers about what I wanted them to do, or not do, to my baby after birth. This includes delayed cord clamping, no bathing, immediate skin to skin, etc.
Lastly, you can be more prepared by taking a birthing class or researching your options. There are a lot of resources available to gain education on birth – in person, in print or online.
I also hired a doula for my second birth. It might not be possible for everyone, but having a doula was the number one best decision I made for myself and my husband. Trust me on this one.
If you do end up taking a class or course for birthing preparation, make sure you practice.
Whatever the practice might be, invest the time. We can never be completely prepared for birth, as each one writes its own story. But preparing your mind and body gives you the best shot at having a positive experience.
With my second pregnancy I decided to try a Hypnobabies self study program. It included daily practice of self hypnosis. Like training for any big event, it allowed my mind and body to feel more prepared on the big day. Don’t cheat yourself, you deserve to be prepared when learning how to prepare for labor induction
Keep an Open Mind
After all that preparation, be ready to let it all go if needed! Birth is unpredictable.
With the labor induction process, there are certain “steps” that are taken so there lies some predictability. But how your body receives them is not. There will be twists and turns, and you will be better prepared to handle them if you let go a little.
This is not to say let others take control. You ultimately have a say in how you birth, so make sure you advocate for yourself. Ask questions and weigh your options. You have the right to change your mind.
Just remember that sometimes one of the best ways of how to prepare for labor induction is to remember to stay flexible.
Trust Yourself and Your Baby
Finally, when you are entering an induction, trust yourself and your baby. It can be scary, I know I was nervous. But trust yourself and your body. I firmly believe in the mind body connection. Fill yourself up with positive thoughts and affirmations.
If you feel comfortable with it, talk to your baby going into this process. He or she is about to embark on a huge feat as well. You are the only, and best, mother to your baby, you can do this. However your baby enters the world will be the best way for you both.
I hope these suggestions and experiences can help you decide how to prepare for labor induction, should you be on the verge.
Don’t feel guilty because someone on the internet says you shouldn’t induce. There are many reasons why this is the best option, don’t feel the need to explain it to others. Embrace it and prepare for one of the most amazingly transformative days of your life, mama.
This post was written by Kristina, author and creator of My Semi Designed Life. She’s a former Interior Designer turned Stay At Home Mom, currently embracing the imperfect life. Follow her for decor, DIY, food, all things home and, of course, mom life!