Induction Basics

You have passed your due date, and your doctor suggests getting your labor started. Or maybe your water has broken but contractions haven’t begun on their own. Perhaps you or your baby have a complication that necessitates birth sooner rather than later, and your healthcare provider suggests induction.

While the medical technology to bring about labor is exciting, it’s also a little scary if you’re not sure what’s about to happen. Here’s a quick primer on induction basics to help you start your learning:

How is labor induced?

Induction is most often done in the hospital so you and your baby can be monitored for any complications. The most common means of induction are:

– Stripping the membranes: During a vaginal exam, your healthcare provider will push the amniotic sac away from the cervix in an attempt to release hormones to start labor. This is often done during an office visit rather than in the hospital, and it is the least effective means of starting labor. You may experience some cramping and light bleeding afterwards.

– Breaking your water: Artificial Rupture of the Membranes (AROM) is done with a crochet-like hook inserted then removed during a vaginal exam in order to put a hole in the amniotic sac. You would need to be a bit dilated for this procedure to be done. The thought is that without the cushion of fluid, your baby’s head will put pressure on the cervix and stimulate the release of hormones to start labor. AROM is better at stimulating a labor that has slowed than it is at starting a labor from scratch. This can be a long, drawn-out process if your body isn’t quite ready for labor to start, and often leads to  additional interventions, such as continuous fetal monitoring.

– Prostaglandins: Prostaglandins are produced naturally in your body and cause the cervix to soften before labor begins. A synthetic form of the substance can be placed near the cervix or taken orally in pill form.

– Pitocin / Syntocinon: Oxytocin is the hormone of labor that causes the uterine muscle to contract and release, thus opening and thinning the cervix so the baby can be born. A synthetic form of this hormone is often used intravenously to bring on labor contractions (and needs to be done in the hospital). It requires that a mom have an IV line started and often continuous fetal monitoring performed, which may limit her options as far as natural comfort measures. The amount of the drug can be adjusted depending on contraction strength – if contractions remain weak, levels will be increased gradually, and if contractions are too strong, levels can be decreased for your comfort and safety. A woman is much more likely to use pain medication with this type of induction.

Are there any natural ways to start labor?

While not fool-proof, some women decide to avoid the medical induction (therefore limiting the associated interventions) by trying natural means of getting labor started. Some of these might include:

– Sex – orgasm releases oxytocin and semen is full of prostaglandins, though this method only works if your body is already primed for labor to start

– Nipple stimulation – releases oxytocin, can be done manually or with a breast pump, but often needs to be done over a long period of time

– Acupuncture / Acupressure – these methods of Traditional Chinese Medicine have been used successfully for thousands of years to start labor

– Herbs – these are like medications so check with your provider first and work with an herbalist, homeopathic specialist or naturopath to ensure you are using them correctly, some typical ones are evening primrose oil, black cohosh, and raspberry leaf

As with any proposed intervention, ask questions until you feel comfortable making an informed decision about whether or not to consent to induction. Ask about the risks and benefits, the alternatives, and urgency of the situation. Ask how it will be performed, and what will happen if the first method doesn’t get labor going. The answers to these questions, along with the induction basics above, will help you feel confident making the right decision for you and your baby.

Written by Michelle: IBCLC, writer, editor, childbirth instructor, and mother to 4 busy kids

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

3 Questions about Labor and Delivery

As you approach labor and delivery, you will be trying to put together everything you know about childbirth and wondering how it will be for you. Many people have labor and delivery concerns. In fact, even moms who have been there and done that, have worries about what labor and delivery will hold for them.

The following are the 3 common questions about labor and delivery that most women worry or wonder about.

1.  What if I cannot handle the pain? Sure, labor and delivery is painful. You have heard the stories. You have also likely heard that most women forget about it as soon as it is over. The good news is that today, pain management is available and you as the patient have the right to choose just how much you want to feel and how much you don’t. Taking pain medicine is a private choice, and if you are terrified of pain – then an epidural or spinal is the best way for you to go. The reality is, that although labor and delivery is painful, it is not altogether unpleasant. Keep in mind that women have been giving birth forever – and that you too, will be able to get through it. For most women, the worries about the pain are worse than the pain itself.

2.  Will I poop on the doctor? Chances are you will. And chances are, the doctor won’t mind a bit. And chances are, you won’t even know you did it. The pressure and pushing that go hand in hand with labor and delivery do often produce a bowel movement.  But believe us when we say that there is NOT a labor and delivery doctor that will be offended. In fact, you just focus on having a baby and let the doctors – and nurses – deal with the rest.

3. Will I embarrass myself by hollering or screaming during labor? When women give birth, they make many sounds. From winces of pains, to yelps, to moans to whines. In the throes of labor and delivery, you will not even notice you are making a sound at all. And, you will likely not worry about who is around to hear you. Some women don’t make any noises during labor, while others cry and scream. Regardless of what you do during labor – no one will be making fun of you, and you will not embarrass yourself. Midwives and those who attend birth are completely aware of what to expect, and they won’t hold it against you. After all, you are delivering a tiny human – which entitles you to any noises that you deem suitable.

Fears and worries about labor can impact the progress of the birth – even to the point of slowing things down to a stop. Dealing with your fears before the childbirth process starts can help you have the birth you want.

Written By Stef, Mom of 4 @Momspirational

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.