Most women know induction is no walk in the park.
For some mothers and babies, it’s safer for labour to start sooner rather than later, but the idea of being induced can be stressful.
Induction means asking your body to begin labour before it is naturally ready. This can be a slower, more difficult process and it is normal to feel some concern about how you will cope.
If you do need an induction, you don’t have to give up the idea of a positive birth, or one without pain medication.
8 Ways To Have A Positive Induction Birth
Here are 8 tips for a positive induction birth:
#1: Understand Labour Induction
If you have time and there is no emergency, look at your options for induction. A Bishop’s score can be performed to see how close you are to labour, and which method of induction is most likely to be successful. If you are induced before your cervix is fully ripe, there is a greater chance that you will be in for a longer labour, which increases the risk of interventions.
Each form of induction has its pros and cons. It helps to know what is likely to happen in each situation, and prepare for how you will meet the challenge. Don’t forget – the preparation you have done for a natural labour still counts too! You can use that knowledge to help you understand how labour works, even if it doesn’t start under your own steam.
#2: Have Birth Savvy Support
Having support during labour is always important. When it comes to induction your birth support can be crucial. Make sure your partner understands the process of induction, so he isn’t caught out by the intensity.
Or hire a doula, who is an experienced birth support person. Doulas know lots of techniques to help women cope with labour and can help you get through an induced labour.
#3: Prepare Your Environment
Natural labour happens best under certain conditions: darkness and privacy, quiet and safety. These conditions are still important even if your labour is induced, and will allow you to feel as close to having a spontaneous labour as possible. You are less likely to feel tense and frightened when you are owning your birth situation.
Dim the lights or close the curtains. Have your music and essential oils ready. Ask your care providers to respect your birth wishes for quiet voices and privacy. Some women use eyeshades to keep out sights and light, which can help them to go inwards and focus on labour rather than the clinical situation of induction.
If you have monitors attached, or a drip put in for artificial oxytocin, sit on the birth ball instead of the bed. This gives you more freedom of movement as the ball allows you to rock and move your hips, lean forward into the bed or wall, or bounce and move your legs.
#4: Prepare To Find Your Way Through
Labour under your own steam has a unique pattern. Some women have long, slow first stages, others have short and furious active labour. The hormones your body produces during natural labour help you to cope with the growing intensity and strength of contractions, pulling you into a trance and helping you to find your way through each one.
Depending on the method of induction used, you might go quite suddenly from not being in labour to being in labour, with no gentle build up. The intensity can be a challenge and, to get you through, it can help to have some really good tools in your pain management kit, such as:
- Breathing techniques.
- TENS machine.
- Relaxation exercises.
- Having your partner or birth support use acupressure, hip squeezes, or warm compresses.
- Being as active as possible – use the birth ball, stand up, or lean over; avoid lying down, but if you need a rest, lie on your left side.
Having coping strategies in place can help you to focus on staying within and finding your way through the pain. If you can accept and move past the fear then you are more likely to work with it and not tense up.
If your labour has been induced with artificial oxytocin, and contractions are well established, you can request to have the drip turned down or even removed. Discuss this option with your care provider beforehand.
#5: At Some Point It Will Get Too Much
Remember, in most cases, induction overrides your body’s normal hormone production. Your body doesn’t know to release endorphins, which are nature’s pain killer. There will most likely be a point during labour where you will feel the pain becoming bigger than you. If you have been coping well until this point, you might think there is no way you can continue, and start thinking about pain medication.
It is likely you are entering into transition, when the cervix nears complete dilation. Transition is a time of emotional and physical upheaval. It is not uncommon for women to decide they can’t go on without drugs, or become convinced they will be in labour for days, and just want to go home! This is a normal part of labour and signals that your baby is close to being born.
You might start feeling more pressure in your bottom, and the sounds you make might change. Your midwife will probably register these and ask if you feel ‘pushy’. If you have a cervical check, it is likely you will be almost or completely dilated.
#6: Stand And Give Birth
Lying down or semi reclining while giving birth increases the chances of a prolonged second stage, fetal distress and use of interventions. Your tailbone needs space to move as your baby’s head passes through the pelvic space, and your pelvis also needs freedom to open. The best positions to adopt when pushing are active ones.
Being active during labour doesn’t mean you have to be walking or climbing stairs. Active labour positions are those that allow you to move with your body and the contractions. Is it possible to do this with monitor belts and possibly a drip in place? Definitely. Your partner, doula or midwife can support you in different positions, such as squatting, kneeling, leaning forward or standing. If you do need to rest, try lying on your left side and have someone hold your upper leg.
Read more about the benefits of an active labour and birth.
#7: The Third Stage
At the moment of birth, your body produces a high surge of oxytocin. This surge stimulates strong contractions after your baby is born, which sheer the placenta away from the uterus wall, and clamps the blood vessels.
Depending on the method of induction used, you might be able to leave your baby’s cord intact and have a natural third stage. Most hospitals have a standard policy to give Syntocinon or Pitocin (either via drip or injection) to speed delivery of the placenta, and lessen the chance of excessive bleeding.
If your labour was induced by medication, your body won’t have produced the same levels of oxytocin as would naturally happen in a spontaneous labour. Your care provider will prefer to manage the third stage but you can ask for your baby’s cord to remain intact for as long as possible.
#8: Protect The First Hour
Once your baby is born, you will be able to sit back and feel the benefits of such a positive and calm birthing experience. You will have achieved a birth where you were in control and the clinical aspect was not the bigger picture.
Take this time to soak in your new baby; skin to skin and early breastfeeding will help to promote your natural oxytocin production. You can read more about the benefits of the first hour.
Being induced can feel as though your plan for a natural and positive birth experience is going out the window. But with careful preparation and determination, you can achieve a wonderful and empowering birth.
Recommended Reading: Natural Labour vs Induced Labour – 6 Main Differences.