Pregnancy lasts a long-ass time. I know this isn't a particularly eloquent or profound philosophical assertion, but it's a straight-up truth that cannot be overstated. Even if you deliver before your due date, like me, growing babies is slow, tedious work. Sometimes things are moving so slowly you and your baby might require (or request) a little nudge to get labor started. This is known as an induction. I asked a group of women to share what being induced actually feels like and, wouldn't you know it, there were as many different responses as there were women willing to respond. It's almost like everyone is unique and has their own opinions and experiences! Just like everything else having to do with pregnancy and childbirth! OMG! Who could have guessed this totally unexpected outcome, right?
Your maternity care provider might suggest an induction for a number of reasons, including medical concerns for you or your baby (such as diabetes, pre-eclampsia, or placenta issues), having your water break but not going into labor on your own, or being more than a week past your due date, which increases the risk of birth complications. In addition, there are several different kinds of inductions you can experience. There's medical induction — which will make use of medications like Pitocin, mechanical dilation via a contraption called a Foley blub, and/or artificial rupture of membranes (AROM or ARM) — and then there are more DIY home-induction methods, such as nipple stimulation and, my personal favorite, sex. For the purposes of this discussion, however, I wanted to talk about the kind of inductions performed by professionals.
While my first labor started spontaneously (seriously, straight out of a Hollywood movie and with the unexpected breaking of my waters launching me immediately into labor), my second was induced by a midwife via AROM. At 38 weeks my baby was projected to be almost nine pounds and, with my history of gestational diabetes, we didn't want her to "overdevelop." (Incidentally, she was born 9 pounds 2 ounces, so the induction was definitely the right call to make.)
In my case, my induced labor felt basically identical to my spontaneous labor, but I wanted to see what others had to say on the topic. Here's what they had to say, and it's definitely worth reading if you're planning and/or in the position of potentially experiencing an induction of your own:
"The worst part for me was when they manually broke my water. They said it wouldn't hurt, that was a lie!* I don't know if it wasn't supposed to hurt and they just poked the wrong spot or something, but ow. Besides that, it was great. Being able to plan childcare for my older one, and walk into the hospital pain-free (unlike my older child, when I went into labor just like in the movies) was almost relaxing. They induced me around 7:00 a.m. and I had my daughter at 1:23 p.m., so it was not slow like many people experience. The contractions came hard and fast, but they did that when I wasn't induced also."
*Writer's note: it didn't hurt when they manually broke my water, so maybe they weren't lying to Cindy so much as mistaken in her particular case.
"The positive is you know your baby will be coming (likely) within the next 24 hours! I had a bulb catheter inserted at 10:00 p.m. and when I went to stand up, I was in so much pain I almost passed out. Evidently some people's bodies can 'reject' them?! The pain subsided and I had weak contractions for hours. At about 5:00 a.m. my nurse quickly yanked out the catheter, which took my breath away. The doctor broke my water and started me on Pitocin at around noon. I contracted and dilated to about five centimeters and then my progress slowed. [They] cranked up the Pitocin and the contractions came fast and furious! I asked for an epidural at around 5:00 p.m., and there were two people ahead of me! Got the epidural, was fully dilated by 10:00 p.m., exhausted from no sleep, and pushed for 45 mins. The doctor tried forceps three times (which resulted in a tear), and I ended up needing a c-section! Womp womp!"
"Like pure bliss after being pregnant for almost 42 weeks."
"Nothing. Nothing. Nothing, then what the hell pain so much pain give me the epidural give it now. It was like an enormous amount of pressure on my pelvis and associated bits. I think the English language is specifically set up so I can't describe it so I don't scare other potential mothers. Pitocin is no f*cking joke.."
"I was induced twice. My inductions went very smoothly and the pain wasn't too much. (Thanks epidural!) The first time, I went in the night before for cytotec. Insertion wasn't uncomfortable or anything. Then, thanks to the sleep pills, I slept like a baby! Pitocin was started at 7:00 a.m. and I asked for an epidural before the contractions were too strong. After that, I didn't feel anything. I actually slept until it was time to push. My son was born at 3:30 p.m. Second time, I went in at four centimeters. Pitocin started at 6:00 a.m., epidural at 9:00 a.m., [and my daughter] was born at 11:00 a.m. that very day. It went really fast. I did feel the contractions more this time, but I blame the epidural not the Pitocin."
"Let's just say it drove me to a home birth for my second baby."
"At least, for me, it felt so frustrating and endless. My induction lasted almost 48 hours with hardly any progress before ending in a c-section, and it was just a lot of waiting and I remember getting really sad — like legit sad — that nothing was happening, and I just felt like it was going to drag on forever. Obviously it didn't last forever, but those were two incredibly long, stressful, and uncomfortable days."
"Cytotec given at noon, dilated to two centimeters in 24 hours, then they broke my water and I went from two to seven centimeters in an hour. It was hell. By the time epidural was placed and working (three hours later) I was fully dilated. Pushed baby A out at 4:14 p.m. and baby B with vacuum assist at 5:04 p.m. I was also on magnesium sulfate which was exhausting — I think I could've done without the vacuum if I hadn't been on it.
Advice: if they are about to break your water and you haven't had an epidural yet, get one first! After they break your water it's anyone's guess how much things will pick up!"
"I actually went in my labor on my way to my induction. I know that doesn't answer your question, but it's pretty funny."
"My second baby was an induction. He was my second so I thought, 'I've been in labor before. I've got this.' Nope! It was a whole other ball game for me. More intense, and definitely faster. The first time I went 'all natural' but I had an epidural with my second and I don't regret it for a minute."
"It went pretty normal, I guess. I was on Pitocin and the contractions were more intense than any Braxton Hicks I'd ever had, but they were manageable... until my doctor broke my water and then I sounded like a caged animal. It hurt. Fortunately there was still time for an epidural and I'm so glad."
"It was all very convenient. Everything was ready, everyone was there, there was a set plan in place. I'm so Type A that even though I wanted to go into labor on my own, I think this turned out to be the best move for me because I didn't get overly anxious with a whole bunch of unknowns hanging over my head."