They can be intense, if you don’t know how to navigate them. Im here to tell you the process, the options, the side effects and when they are necessary or not.
“Inducing labor is the artificial start of the birth process through medical interventions or other methods.”(1) Inductions can start many different ways and end many different ways. The one thing that is the same at every labor and induction is, you have options. Know your options, ask questions and remember to use your BRAIN: Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition, and No or Nothing. Some times decisions need to be made quickly though. So knowing your options before anything happens is key. As a doula and child birth educator I know there are times inductions are necessary and other times they are not.
- High blood pressure
- Bleeding in pregnancy
- Gestational diabetes
- Water broken longer than 24 hours
- A pregnancy past 42 weeks
- A uterine infection known as chorioamnionitis
- “Big baby”
- Timing for Drs benefit
The process: Most hospitals have you arrive in the morning, depending on the circumstances with your induction they may start by inserting a prostaglandin into your vagina. A prostaglandin is a suppository, it’s inserted into the vagina. It can help the cervix soften and efface. Your prostaglandin may kick start your labor starting regular contractions, if this happens it is possible you may not need pitocin. Pitocin is a synthetic form of oxytocin which the body produces naturally during labor. Depending on how you labor is going thus far and how you and baby are tolerating the medication, you may be able to wait and see if your labor pattern picks up before starting pitocin. If pitocin is needed you will be hooked up to an iv if you don’t already have one, your pitocin will drip with your iv fluids. Pitocin helps your contractions become more frequent and regular. It can make your contractions become so intense that they are too much for you to handle without pain relief. Most of the time, after pitocin is started, your dosage increases every 30 min.
Pitocin side effects (2)
- redness or irritation at the injection site
- loss of appetite
- stomach pain
- more intense or more frequent contractions (this is an expected effect of oxytocin)
- runny nose
- sinus pain or irritation
- memory problems
Tell your doctor if you experience serious side effects of Pitocin including:
- fast, slow, or uneven heart rate;
- excessive bleeding long after childbirth;
- slurred speech
- severe vomiting
- severe weakness
- muscle cramps
- loss of coordination
- feeling unsteady
- seizure (convulsions)
- shallow breathing or breathing that stops
- dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, seizure).
Another option for your induction is a foley/cooks catheter. Foley/Cooks catheter(3): a catheter with a ballon at one end and a bag of saline at the other end. The balloon is placed just inside of your cervix to help dilate your cervix. The balloon is slowly filled with saline. Sometimes your nurse will place a string around the catheter with an additional bag of saline attached to it for added traction to help more with dilation and effacement.
Catheter Side effects(3)
- acute transient febrile reaction
- non-reassuring FHR tracing
- vaginal bleeding
- pain necessitating removal of catheter
- altered fetal presentation from vertex to breech
Inductions can be quick or they can be long. It’s a coin toss.
During your induction to help your labor further along with the least interventions make sure you stay hydrated, and you move around as much as possible. If you cannot be up and moving stay as upright as possible. When prostaglandins are administered you may have to stay reclined for a period of time. The birth ball and peanut ball can be your best friend in labor, Both can help your hips stay wide so baby has a chance to move lower to further along your labor. Your birth team can help you relax and remember to breathe. I often see my clients during a contraction holding their breath. I promise you the easiest way to try to avoid the annoying oxygen mask is to remember to breathe. Talk with your birth team well before your induction, about what pain relief you would like. What ever your choice is remember its your choice, not theirs, not the nurses, not the Dr’s, and not your families, Its YOUR choice. What ever happens during your labor and delivery, remember to breath and use your BRAIN. I hope you have a wonderful labor and delivery. If you would like more information on preparing for your labor, delivery and bringing your newest addition home contact The Nurturing Doula:
The Nurturing Doula, LLC Katy Schmidt
* The Nurturing Doula is not a Doctor, please consult your Dr for further information on benefits and risks.
(1)http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/inducing-labor/ (2)https://www.rxlist.com/pitocin-side-effects-drug-center.htm (3) http://contemporaryobgyn.modernmedicine.com/contemporary-obgyn/content/tags/foley-balloon/transcervical-foley-balloon