Induction of Labour - What you need to know
Recent figures from the NHS show that 1 in 3 labours are now induced and just 52% of women will start their labour spontaneously.
Women are offered inductions for a number of reasons, which can include post dates (babies not born by 40 weeks), gestational diabetes, pre labour rupture of membranes (waters breaking but labour not established), reduced movements and for ‘large or small’ babies. Understanding why you are being offered an induction and where to go to unpick the justification and information you are given is KEY to making a confident, positive and informed decision.
The world Health Organisation’s recommendation for induction of labour is that “Induction of labour should be preformed where there is a clear medical indication for it and the expected benefits outweigh its potential harms”
If you are thinking about, or have been offered an induction, here are some steps you can take to make your decision. (It’s also good to read this in early pregnancy so you feel informed should the situation arise)
The first thing you should do is read Dr Sara Wickham’s Inducing Labour: Making Informed Decisions (we have copies in our birth library) and you could also join the Induction of Labour Facebook Group too.
Remember you always have a choice and you can always change your mind. Use BRAIN to help make your decision confidently and keep using it throughout the process when faced with other questions or decisions to make. Just because one intervention is right for you doesn’t mean they all will be, so take it step by step and weigh each bit up as you go.
If you decide that induction is the right birth for your baby then you’re going to need to support your body still. Induction doesn’t do the birth bit for you, it just gets it started. The rest is up to you and there are ways you can prepare to make it a positive birth experience. Having an induction certainly doesn’t mean Hypnobirth is out of the window…if anything, it’s more important now than ever!
Here are some suggestions for a positive induction
Don’t rush. Think about a stretch and sweep. If you are planning an induction then having a stretch and sweep can mean that you’re 33% more likely to go in to labour without the need of a formal induction. Talk to your midwife about whether this might be right for you and remember that you can ask as many questions as you need before you make your decision.
Start to boost your natural oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone released when you go in to spontaneous labour and you might be given a synthetic version of it in the induction process. Producing your own oxytocin will help your body to get in to established labour. Remember, we produce oxytocin when we feel calm, relaxed and unobserved. So no matter where you are, create your nest. Darken the environment, add music, ask for calm and quiet. Do what you need to do to feel safe and relaxed. Make the environment you are in YOURS.
Remember to breathe. In order to support all of the hard work your uterine muscles are doing in labour you are going to need to give your body lots of oxygen. Induced labour can be more painful and that’s because our bodies don’t have a supply of endorphins built up to act as a natural pain relief, like they do in spontaneous labour. Breathing will help to stop the muscles becoming tired. To build your endorphins up during induction think about massage, touch or a TENS machine. These techniques are discussed and taught on the course and will all help to get your body producing endorphins, which if bottled are as strong as morphine!
Remember there are lots of choices still with induction. You may be able to go home with a pessary in place – which is great for returning to a safe birth environment! You might be able to go to the birth centre or use the pool. Your birth can still be active, even if you are being continuously monitored (these monitors can be used in water too) Remember, ask your midwife what your options are. If you don’t know your options, then you don’t have any!
Get positive. Positive birth stories are everywhere, for all types of birth so get on Instagram, Facebook, The Mama’s Hub and the Induction of Labour group and read positive induction stories and suggestions from mums who have done it. Feeling positive and confident will have a big impact on how you feel (keeping adrenalin at bay) and your ability to do this, so feel strong and excited - you are going to meet your baby!
If you have any questions about the techniques, or want to know more about other relaxation techniques for pregnancy & birth you could book a BIRTH HOUR appointment with us, for a short, effective and informative hour of birth coaching. Details can be found here.
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