An induction is a medical process used to start natural labor. The goal of an induction is to kick-start a woman into normal labor and then help her along the way. An induction can be a scary experience if you’re not prepared. However, knowledge is power. Take the mystery out of the process and help put yourself at ease. Here are five of the most important things you should know about inductions.
1- Why are inductions needed?
Inductions may be needed for any one of the following reasons:
· When your baby is well past their due date
Doctors aim to carry all pregnancies to term, or 39 weeks, but sometimes your baby may not want to arrive into the world just yet. Once you start to get to week 41 and beyond, your doctor might recommend an induction.
· If you have a medical condition like preeclampsia, diabetes, or gestational diabetes
Some medical conditions can increase the risk of complications during labor so doctors may recommend an induction where the delivery can be held in a more planned and coordinated way.
· If your water has broken
Also called ruptured membranes, if your water breaks and contractions have not started on their own within 24 hours, your doctor may elect to induce you.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the reasons your doctor may recommend an induction but it covers the vast majority of reasons that women have them.
2- What happens when I have an induction?
Inductions are planned in advance and each hospital has a slightly different process for inducing women. Here is a rough outline of what to expect.
– You will be given a date and time to arrive at the hospital.
– Once you arrive the staff will help settle you in, carry out a brief examination, and start using non-invasive devices to monitor the baby’s health.
– By now, a midwife or nurse will have explained the entire process to you. You’ll be given a series of medications that help ripen the cervix to help you go into labor.
– After the medication, it becomes a bit of a waiting game. It can take your body anywhere from a few hours to 24 hours to go into natural labor. Throughout this time, you’ll be supported by medical staff who will frequently check up on you to see how you are progressing.
3- How long will the whole process take?
Inductions can take a long time. Don’t expect to go into the hospital in the morning, have the baby in a few hours, and be home shortly. Having an induction is a bit of a guessing game. It can take some women 1-2 days before labor gets going. especially for first-time mothers. So plan to be in the hospital for awhile.
4- The risks associated with having an induction
Inductions are usually done as a medical necessity, meaning that it is medically advised to get one. The alternative may have dire consequences for you and possibly the baby. However, there are a few things to keep in mind if having an induction1:
- Sometimes the uterus can contract too strongly or too often, also known a hyperstimulation. If it affects the baby’s heart rate, the induction may need to be paused or stopped, or you may even need an emergency C-section.
- With induction, there is a slightly increased risk of needing forceps, vacuum, or a C-section compared with natural labor. If you have had a C-section before, some of the medications used to soften the cervix can increase the risk of uterine rupture, a rare but dangerous complication.
- Women needing induction are also more likely to have an assisted delivery, where forceps or ventouse suction are used to help the baby out.
5- The keys to having a successful induction
The key to a successful induction—and a smooth labor and delivery—is preparation. If you know well in advance that you’ll be having an induction then do a little bit of research. Speak to your midwife and doctor so you will know exactly what to expect. If possible, visit the maternity ward that you’ll be having your baby. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Know what to bring to the hospital, know what your pain management options will be, and discuss all your concerns with your healthcare providers.
Remember that every woman is different. Inductions are more unpredictable than a non-induced labor, but every pregnancy, labor, and delivery is unique. The key is to reach out to those around you if you’re ever unsure about anything.
1- Parents Canada. By Andrea Skorenki, MD| September 10, 2014. What you should know before being induced. http://www.parentscanada.com/pregnancy/what-you-should-know-before-being-induced