11 Ways to Have a Positive Induction Birth

(6 minute read)

There’s so much fear around induction of labour and often, those who have prepared for an unmedicated birth feel that their plans go out the window as soon as they accept. This doesn’t have to be the case, all you may need to do is reframe how you think about your birth and prepare to include it in your birth plan.

Approximately 50% of labours in the UK are induced, this equates to 1 in 5 pregnancies (according to NHS  2021/22 data) so it’s highly likely you will be offered IoL towards the end of your pregnancy.

In this article we will:

  • Look at what induction is – the procedure and the UK rates
  • Discuss birth rights and the choices you have in labour
  • The reasons you may be offered it
  • The pros and cons
  • 11 ways to have a positive experience

If after reading this article you still have questions, please do contact your midwife. It’s your midwifes job to give you the information you need to make an informed choice about your care.

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What is induction of Labour?

Induction of labour is a medical procedure used to initiate or accelerate the process of labour when it has not started spontaneously or needs to be expedited. If you choose to be induced you would be booked in by your midwife. On the day of your induction you would go to hospital. A pessary (it looks a bit like a tampon) would be inserted into your vagina – this process is designed to start labour but it might not always work. If this happens you should be offered further doses but remember – it is your choice to accept! Your body may not be ready to go into labour so it’s worth discussing options if you don’t want to accept further inductions.

 

Sometimes induction birth is necessary but sometimes it isn't. If you are presented with medical interventions then it's worth asking for the reasons why and the evidence to back up the reasons. Like any medical intervention, induction of labour has its pros and cons. It's also worth noting that you can request an outpatients IoL which means you are induced in hospital but then go home to wait for labour to start. This may be an attractive option – particularly if your pregnancy is low risk.

Birth rights in pregnancy

If you are told that you are going to be induced on a set date then it can feel like you have no other options but this just isn't true. All medical interventions are your choice. 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 please visit the Birth Rights website where you can find lots of useful resources.

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Why might you be offered induction birth?

There are many reasons that you may be offered induction of labour:

  • Post dates - this is the term used for when you have gone past your ‘due date’ at 40 weeks pregnant and is the most common reason.
  • Fetal 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 (diabetes, high bp) - at term or early induction may be offered for health conditions which are linked to a higher rate of fetal mortality and morbidity.
  • Age - each trust will vary but most will offer induction at around 39 weeks for women over 40 years old as there is some evidence that the chance of stillbirth increases from 0.1% (for women aged under 35) to 0.2%. 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.
  • High chance of PET - your risk of developing preeclampsia (PET) can now be assessed during pregnant using blood tests and scans. If you are found to have a higher chance you may be offered induction.
  • Reduced fetal movements (RFM) - reduced fetal movements are linked to poor outcomes for babies. If you are assessed due to reduced movements and baby is showing signs of distress or you have repeated episodes of RFM induction will be recommended.
  • Prolonged rupture of membranes - when your waters break this means that the protective barrier around baby has gone and after around 24 hours you are more susceptible to infections. Your hospital may offer to induce labour if you have prolonged rupture of membranes without contractions.
  • Rupture of membranes with meconium (baby poo) – if your waters go and baby has pooed (they are green or brown in colour) it is recommended to assess baby and induce labour as meconium can increase the risks of infection and meconium aspiration during birth.
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Pros and cons of induction

Induction doesn't have to be all bad. In fact, some women end up having a positive birth after they have been induced. Let's look at some of the pros and cons of induction of labour:

Pros:

  • 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 fetal 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:

  • Inducing labour can increase the likelihood of other medical interventions. These interventions can carry their own risks and potential complications.
  • Induced labour does not alwaysprogress as expected, and there is a 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 fetal 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 for your birth options 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 experience

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

1. Preparation

Hypnobirthing classes helps prepare your mind for birthing. 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, touch - which can all be replicated during labour.

2. Pain management

Induction of labour is like starting labour at a sprint. This means that your muscles (in particular your uterus) gets 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 plan in pain management to help you to cope.

3. Request and out-patients induction

If you want to do the majority of your labour at home then request an out-patients induction. This would mean you go to hospital to have your induction and then head home. 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.

4. Understand medical interventions

Being induced increases your chances of having further medical interventions. It’s important to understand what they are as well as the pros and cons so you can make a plan and set your boundaries. Ultimately – staying in control.

5. Support

Hypnobirthing keeps you calm and focused, so it’s a brilliant companion to a higher risk birth. The assumption that a Mum can’t use hypnobirthing with an induction isn’t true at all. Alongside a level-headed birth partner and a cosy birth environment, hypnobirthing is the best support you can have during labour.

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

With any other sort of intervention, the risk is that our enemy adrenaline creeps in. Hypnobirthing can help you stay calm, and can help increase your natural oxytocin. Staying calm, relaxing your muscles and breathing deeply are facilitated by hypnosis, and keep adrenaline at bay.

7. Environment

People assume an induction involves being made to lay on a bed, hospital lights glaring and monitor beeping away. Wrong! You are 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. I find that using headphones is most impactful for this, as there may be other disturbances to block out. You can also move around, there is no reason for you to lay down if you don’t want to.

8. Staying positive

Hypnosis is essentially deep relaxation so that we can access your subconscious and teach it new, positive and the truth about birth. This helps you enter the birth room in a positive mind set. Advise your birth partner to use positive affirmations during labour to increase this sense of positivity.

9. Keeping your strength up

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

10. Breathing Techniques

Hypnobirthing helps you breathe! If induction contractions are stronger, 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.

11. 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 re-evaluate as you go, and keep referring to your original plan.

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Although induction may not feel like a route you want to take, knowing the pros and cons and how to make your induction positive can make a real difference in how you feel about your birth. In the UK 1 in 5 births are induced and it's highly likely you will be offered induction towards the end of your pregnancy. Make an informed choice and the choice that is right for you and your baby.

If you want to know more then be sure to read up on the NICE guidelines so you can find ways to make informed decisions and have a positive birth.

 

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