Labor and delivery can be so scary. I feared not being in control of my body, pain, potential complications, and that something would happen to my baby. Having to be induced can make things so much scarier, especially if you believe people's horror stories. There are some really cruel things you could do to a woman being induced and, sadly, most of them were done to me.
Personally, the thought of being induced was terrifying. It was not what I wanted or a part of my "perfect birth plan." I was almost a week past my due date with my daughter and my blood pressure kept creeping up until it reached a level that caused my midwife to worry. To make matters worse, I had been having prodromal labor (non-productive contractions) for weeks and was in a lot of pain.
When I told my friends that I was being admitted for induction they:
- told me their induction horror stories
- told me I would probably have a c-section (in their minds a fate worse than anything)
- told me how much it was going to suck
- tried to talk me out of it and even suggested that I not go to the hospital
Their comments made my anxiety sky-rocket. Ironically, my water broke less than an hour after I checked into labor and delivery, and I didn't need to be induced after all. Labor ended up being different than I imagined, so I threw away my birth plan and, in the end, welcomed a healthy baby girl.
Three years later I ended up needing to be induced at 37 weeks with my son, due to preeclampsia. I knew what to expect and had far fewer fears. This time, it was my midwife and my husband who were cruel, with their dismissals of my needs and shaming.
I think it's important to remember there's no universally "perfect birth." Some people need inductions to bring healthy babies into the world. Others need no interventions at all. It's best if you keep your thoughts, unless you happen to be their obstetrics provider, to yourself.
Tell Her Horror Stories
The last thing a person being induced needs to hear is everything that could go wrong. Learn some tact, my friends. Also, labor is different for everyone. It might be totally different for her than it was for you, your cousin, or your mom. In other words, keep your horror stories to yourself.
Shame Her Or Make Her Second Guess Herself
Having to be induced is nothing to be ashamed of and doctors and midwives don't make the recommendation unless there's a damn good reason. Even if it's simply because she's overdue and uncomfortable, it's not your body. Shut it.
Tell Her To Ignore Her Doctor Or Midwife
The first time someone suggested that I ignore my midwife and not go to the hospital on the day of my induction, I actually laughed. Then I realized they were serious and I started to wonder if I had made the right choice. I could have seriously put my or my baby's life in danger, because a judgmental person thought having an induction was "bad" after watching the documentary Business of Being Born. Unless you are my health care provider, just shut it.
Assume You Know What Kind Of Labor She'll Have
Labor is anything but predictable so, sometimes, inductions don't work. Sometimes they're fast. Sometimes they're slow. Sometimes they end with a c-section. Sometimes they are super painful. Sometimes they are quick and easy. You don't know how it will go, so stop trying to scare that poor mom-to-be.
Tell Her Not To Get An Epidural
It's up to her and her health care provider what kind of pain management she will get during labor, not you. You don't get to shame a laboring person about what they need to get through labor. It's none of your business and not about you. It's cruel to try to make her worry about what you think on top of everything else she has to worry about. Just stop.
Eat In Front Of Her
If a mom-to-be can't eat or is nauseated, please go somewhere else to have a snack. Don't eat in front of her. That's cruel and unusual.
Prioritize Your Needs Over Hers
When I was induced the second time, I was in too much pain to sleep. I was trying to watch a movie and relax, when my now ex-husband told me that I was making too much noise for him to sleep. The next day 18 hours of back labor and no sleep later, my midwife shamed me for wanting an epidural. True story: she told me my labor was going to slow way down and then left to get her hair done. She didn't make it back in time to deliver my son, and I caught him myself. My husband's sleep and her highlights were not more important than my needs.
Take Her Picture Without Her Consent
This same rule applies to anyone ever, but don't take a laboring woman's picture without her consent. Also, don't pressure her to take photos when she might not have been expecting to be hooked up to IVs, confined to a hospital bed, or awake for 24 hours.
Post About Her Progress On Facebook
Don't live blog her progress on Facebook or Twitter unless she specifically tells you it's OK. Furthermore and most importantly, don't steal her thunder once baby is born. She might have very good reasons for not wanting to announce her labor or delivery to the public or even your friend's list and she might not want intimate details of her cervical dilation posted live. Just don't.
Stay In The Room If She Asks You To Leave
When you are induced, you may have to have a lot of exams and procedures, requiring various levels of undress and exposure. Don't make her ask twice for you to step out or turn around or make feel ashamed about her body. It's just mean. She grew a human being in her body and is about to push it out her vagina. That's amazing and nothing to be ashamed of.