How to make your Induction a Positive Birth Experience!
Most recent figures from the NHS show that women now have a 1 in 3 chance of having their labours induced, and only 52% of women’s labours start spontaneously. Induction numbers have crept up by over 10% in the past 10 years, and if trends continue over the next 10 years, we’ll potentially have less women going into spontaneous labour than having inductions and planned c-sections! A sad state of affairs for sure, but therefore something, as pregnant women, we should definitely be prepared for. If you’re facing an induction of labour, how can you make that as positive an experience as possible?
Now, whilst some of these interventions will be positive, necessary and potentially life saving, I struggle to believe that only half on women’s bodies are capable of going into labour on their own.
1. So the FIRST step to making an induction a positive experience, is getting informed around WHY you are being offered it in the first place. There are numerous reasons why you may be ‘offered’ an induction, from ‘post dates’ to diabetes, reduced movements to your waters breaking ‘early’, and getting to grips with the evidence behind these scenarios and how ‘right’ induction may be for you will enable you to feel confident in your decision. There are many ways to gather this information around induction and there’s no harm in getting informed earlier on in pregnancy to reduce stress and discussion at the last minute. Sara Wickham’s book on Induction is an excellent first step, as is the Induction of Labour group on Facebook.
2. DECISION MAKING. Use your BRAINS tool. An important thing to know is that induction is ALWAYS a choice. There will always be alternatives (such as an extra scan or monitoring) and you can always say ‘Thanks, but no thanks’. If a decision is both truly informed and entirely your own, you’ll be going into the process feeling much more confident and positive (which can have a huge effect on your emotions and therefore the actual physiological process of labour!).
3. Don’t book it in for 41+3 ‘just in case’! If you needed an induction today (like really needed an induction), you could have one. Having a new ‘expiry date’ in your mind, can contribute to the feelings of stress and anxiety, which in turn will cause your body to produce adrenalin and potentially STOP you from going into labour naturally! Make decisions as you go and know that you can always change your mind.
Ok, let’s say you’ve done all of the above and actually decided that yes, in this instance, induction is the right choice, what then?
4. Treat each step of the induction process as a new intervention. Use your BRAINS tool to help you decide when is the right time to move on to the next rung of the induction ladder? You can always ask for more time, not consent to a particular method of induction, halt the process entirely or opt for a caesarean.
5. Take it slowly. Research has shown that starting with a ‘stretch and sweep’ reduces the need for a syntocinon drip. You may find (particularly as a second time mum) that your cervix is already dilated enough for them to ‘break your waters’, however as this is the ‘third step’ of the induction process, you may prefer to take it more slowly, starting with a sweep and/or/pessary. Discuss with your care provider their reasoning for (and the benefits/risk of) jumping ahead.
6. Build your own oxytocin! Oxytocin is the hormone that your body would naturally produce in labour. In the induction process you may be given a synthetic version of oxytocin via a drip. The more of our own oxytocin we can produce to help this process along, the better! Oxytocin is produced when we feel calm, relaxed and unobserved- so turn out the lights, move the bed of the middle of the room, turn that space into your safe, birthing nest until your baby is born!
7. Endorphins! In spontaneous labour, as our body produces oxytocin, it also produces a hormone called endorphins. Endorphins are our body’s natural pain relieving hormone, if you could bottle them they are stronger than morphine! Sadly, we can’t bottle them, and sadly, in an induced labour we don’t create them in the same way- which may be why more women reach for medical pain relief in an induced birth. You can build up your own supply of endorphins though through the use of a TENS machine, massage or physical touch from your birth partner!
8. Know you CHOICES. If you are having an induction, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to go home with the pessary in place- where you will feel more safe, relaxed and unobserved! You may also be able to use the birth centre, and the pool (even on the labour ward). Wireless monitoring is available in many hospitals if for whatever reason your baby needs to be continuously monitored in labour, which can be used in water and also enables you to move around more freely.
9. Get your healthcare team on your side! Ask your healthcare providers what they can to do support your decisions and help you get the things that are most important to your from your birth. Having these discussions in advance of accepting an induction is much easier than trying to assert your opinions during the throes of labour itself.
10. Read some positive induction stories! From a personal perspective, I had an incredibly positive induction birth, but sadly this so often isn’t the case. What had been a planned home birth turned into an induction practically overnight! But thankfully I had the tools above at my fingertips, had been practicing hypnobirthing and understood the process and my choices entirely, I felt fully supported by my midwives and doctors and it’s all of this combined that makes for a positive induction!
Induction is something that we cover on all of our Antenatal and Hypnobirthing courses throughout Surrey and London. If you are keen to find out more- all our courses are listed here