11 Ways to Have a Positive Induction Birth

(10 minute read)

There’s so much fear surrounding induction of labour. Often, those who have prepared for an unmedicated birth feel that their plans go out the window as soon as they accept an induction. But this doesn’t have to be the case! It might just involve a slight reframing of how you think about your experience. You can prepare ahead of time by adding it into your birth plan as an option.

 

Did you know that approximately 50% of labours in the UK are induced? This equates to 1 in 5 pregnancies (according to NHS  2021/22 data), so you will likely be offered an induction towards the end of your pregnancy. It is always your choice as to whether you accept induction of labour. It’s absolutely nothing to be worried about, and this article aims to shed some light on what the process involves as well as how to navigate your options.

What is induction of labour?

Induction of labour is a medical procedure used to kick-start the process of labour when it has not started spontaneously, or if it needs to be accelerated for any reason. It's worth noting here that labour will start at some point, if you're not induced then you will go into labour spontaneously when your baby is ready to be born.

 

If you choose to be induced (it is always your choice!), you will be booked in by your midwife. On the day of your induction, you would go to the hospital, and a pessary (which looks a bit like a tampon) would be inserted into your vagina. This action is designed to trigger the start of labour, but it might not always work, in which case you should be offered further doses. You can accept or decline further doses. Whichever route you decide on - your midwife should discuss next steps and options with you.

 

Your body may not be ready to go into labour at this stage, so it’s worth discussing your options with your healthcare provider if you don’t want to accept further inductions. If you feel that you’re not being listened to or that you’re being nudged in a direction you’re not comfortable with, then know that it’s totally OK to ask for time to process things.

 

Sometimes induction birth is necessary, but sometimes it isn't. If you’re presented with a medical intervention at any point during labour, then it's always worth asking for the reasons behind the suggestion and sufficient evidence to back up the reasons. Like any medical intervention, labour induction has pros and cons, and you have the right to refuse.

 

It's also worth noting that you can request an outpatient induction, which involves you being induced in hospital and then going home to wait for labour to start. This may be an attractive option - particularly if your pregnancy is low-risk.

 

Do contact one of our midwives for free if you would like support in discussing your options for birth. 

What is Hypnobirthing?

How long does induction take for first-time mums?

How quickly an induction works depends on how ready your body is for labour. As you near your due date, your cervix will begin to soften in preparation. If your cervix hasn’t started to prepare in this way and you are induced, then that could mean you are given further inductions to try and force labour to start. This is where it’s important to know the freedom to advocate for yourself - trust your body and tell your midwife if you aren’t comfortable at any point.

 

If this is your first birth, your body will likely take a little longer to get ready for labour. Think of it as muscle memory. When you’ve given birth before, your body knows what to do and kicks into action. This is why subsequent births are usually faster than first births. However, remember that birth is a physiological process; sometimes, first births can be fast – or slow. There is no hard and fast rule about how long anything should take. Just because it’s your first birth– that doesn’t mean you should feel like you should accept induction or any medical intervention to nudge things along. You should take as long as you need to give birth – in your own time.

How painful is induction of labour?

If you go into labour spontaneously then your body has time to warm up, almost as if you were running a race. But if you’re induced then it’s as if labour is jump-started and this means you don’t have the chance to warm up properly. This means induced labours are typically more painful and can prompt a cascade of other unnecessary medical interventions.

 

To counteract this, make sure your birth environment is peaceful and private. Make wherever you are like a cozy cave so you feel protected and safe to give birth. Take it slow, breathe through every contraction, move into positions that feel comfortable for you, and surround yourself with love and warmth! This will allow your precious pain-killing hormones to work their magic and reduce the chances of your birth plan being derailed. It’ll also boost your oxytocin levels, which will help labour progress on its own.

 

 


How long after induction does labour start?

This will vary in relation to how ready your body is to begin labour, but the doses of induction are usually given by the midwife and then left there for up to 12 hours. You will then need to wait approximately 12 hours until you can have another dose, if the first one doesn’t work and you consent to having more, that is.

 

As stated earlier in this article, the closer you are to going into labour spontaneously, the faster the induction will work. This is because if your cervix is ripe then it is ready and an induction may just nudge you into labour. So will a sweep and so could waiting it out which is a perfectly acceptable route to opt for.

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Birthrights in pregnancy

If you’re told that you’re going to be induced on a set date, then it can feel like you have no other option. But this just isn't true! It is your choice - and your choice alone - to accept or decline the offer of any medical intervention. In fact, everything in birth is your choice entirely. No one can tell you what you can or cannot do, so it's worth challenging the decision if it’s proposed and doesn't feel like the right option for you.

 

If you want to read up on your rights during pregnancy and birth, you can visit the Birth Rights website where you can find lots of useful resources.

Why might you be offered induction birth?

There are many reasons that you may be offered induction of labour, including the following:

Post-date pregnancy. This is the term used for when your ‘due date’ has been and gone and you are now more than 40 weeks pregnant. It’s the most common reason for offering an induction.

Foetal growth restriction. Sometimes known as IUGR, this is when your baby is not growing at the expected rate due to issues with the placenta.

Medical conditions (such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure). Induction may be offered at term or even a little bit early for health conditions which are linked to a higher rate of foetal mortality.

Age. Each healthcare provider will vary in their perspective on this, but most will offer induction at around 39 weeks for women over 40 years old. This is because there is some evidence that the chance of stillbirth increases from 0.1% (for women aged under 35) to 0.2% (for women aged over 40). The risk is still small, but technically doubles. As an older parent you are also more likely to have a high-risk pregnancy, suffer from complications and possibly premature birth. Always ask for the most up to date stats on this.

High chance of pre-eclampsia (PET). Your risk of developing pre-eclampsia (PET) can now be assessed during pregnancy using blood tests and scans. If you’re found to have a higher chance, you may be offered induction.

Reduced foetal movements (RFM). Reduced foetal movements are linked to poor outcomes for babies. If you’re assessed due to reduced movements and your baby is showing signs of distress, or you have repeated episodes of RFM throughout your pregnancy, induction will be recommended.

Prolonged rupture of membranes. When your waters break, this means that the protective barrier around your baby has gone and after around 24 hours you will become more susceptible to infections. Your hospital may offer to induce labour if you experience this and contractions aren’t starting on their own. Again, it is your choice to accept or decline. Always ask for the stats to back up the risk.

Rupture of membranes with meconium (baby poo). If your waters break and your baby has pooed, your waters will be green or brown in colour. If this happens it’s recommended to assess your baby and induce labour, as the presence of meconium during birth can increase the risk of infection and meconium aspiration during birth.

Pros and cons of induction

Induction doesn't have to be all bad. In fact, many women end up having a positive birth after they’ve been induced. Let's look at some of the pros and cons of induction, so you can make an informed decision when the time comes:

Pros of induction of labour:

  • Inducing labour allows healthcare providers to have more control over the timing of delivery. This can be beneficial in cases where there are medical concerns for the mother or the baby, such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, or post-term pregnancy.
  • Induction of labour can help reduce the risk of very rare complications associated with prolonged pregnancy, such as foetal distress, meconium aspiration, or stillbirth.
  • In cases where the mother has a medical condition that requires close monitoring or specific management during labour, induction can facilitate this process.

Cons of induction of labour:

  • Inducing labour can increase the likelihood of other medical interventions, which can carry their own risks and potential complications.
  • Induced labour does not always progress as expected, and there is always the possibility of failed induction. This can lead to a longer labour process, increased discomfort, and higher chances of further interventions.
  • Induced contractions are often more intense and occur closer together than those in natural labour. This can result in foetal distress, increased pain and the need for further interventions.
  • For some women, the experience of being induced can lead to feelings of disappointment or loss of control over their birth experience.

Making an informed choice about induction can make all the difference in how you feel about the birth of your baby.

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11 ways to have a positive induction birth

Let's take a look at 11 techniques to help you to have a positive experience if your labour is induced:

  1. Prepare through hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing helps prepare your mind for birthing. The butterbean classes are designed to do just that. If you've prepared mentally using hypnosis while pregnant, you’re conditioning your body to respond positively to cues in your environment such as music, aromatherapy, and touch. These can all be replicated during labour, and can contribute to a sense of calm and focus. The assumption that a mum can’t use hypnobirthing with an induction isn’t true at all!

  1. Understand pain management

Induction of labour is like starting labour at a sprint. This means that your muscles (especially your uterus!) get a bit of a shock, and this can make labour more painful which can lead to further interventions. If you know that labour may feel stronger if you are induced, then you can factor pain management into your birth plan to help you cope.

  1. Request an out-patient’s induction

If you want to do the majority of your labour at home, then request an out-patient’s induction. This way, you can receive your induction in hospital and then head home to wait for labour to progress. It’s up to you where you give birth, you don’t need to explain the reasons why. Asking the right questions can sometimes present options that you didn’t know were available.

  1. Get clued up on medical interventions

Being induced increases your chances of having further medical interventions. It’s important to understand what they are, as well as the benefits and downsides, so you can make a plan and set your boundaries. Ultimately, this empowers you to stay in control.

  1. Support, support, support

Ensuring you have a level-headed birth partner by your side throughout labour is a brilliant way of feeling reassured. They can advocate for you, encourage you, and facilitate your comfort.

  1. Keeping your (natural) oxytocin up and adrenaline down

With any other sort of intervention, the risk is that adrenaline is allowed to creep in. Adrenaline is our enemy during birth, because it interrupts the power of our natural painkilling hormones. Hypnobirthing can help you keep calm and increase your natural oxytocin. Staying focused, relaxing your muscles and breathing deeply are facilitated by hypnosis, and enable adrenaline to be kept at bay.

  1. Create your dream birth environment

People assume an induction involves being made to lay on a bed, hospital lights glaring and monitor beeping away. Wrong! You’re able to take great care over your birth environment with an induction, curating it the way you wish. Diffuse some aromatherapy oils and play our hypnosis tracks or peaceful music to get yourself into a peaceful headspace. I find that using headphones is most impactful for this, as there may be other disturbances to block out. You can also move around whenever you wish during labour - there is no reason for you to be horizontal if you don’t want to be.

  1. Stay positive

Hypnosis is essentially deep relaxation. When we practise hypnosis, we can access our subconscious and teach it the truth about birth so we can approach it feeling confident and free from fear. This helps you enter the birth room in a positive mindset. You could also suggest that your birth partner uses positive affirmations during labour to increase this sense of positivity.

  1. Keep your strength up

While waiting for the induction to be set up, make sure that you eat and rest while you can. It can take a long time, and it can be easy to forget to stay nourished. Keep some healthy snacks nearby, and be sure to stay hydrated.

  1. Practice breathing techniques

Hypnobirthing helps you breathe! If your induction contractions are particularly strong, really focus on taking deep breaths - in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will help oxygen to flow to all of your muscles and your baby.

  1. Refer to your original birth plan

In an induction, skin-to-skin, delayed cord-clamping and other key features of your birth plan are still applicable. So recalibrate as you go, and keep referring to your original plan.

 

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