Here's How The Pain Varies Between Induced & "Natural" Deliveries

I recently found out from my maternal fetal medicine doctor that unless I want to give birth without any drugs, I’ll probably need to be induced at 39 weeks because of the Lovenox injections I take daily. Lovenox is a blood thinner, so if I go into labor after my shot, I have to wait 12 hours before an epidural. No, thank you. Shout out to all of you going without, but to be honest, I don’t even want to be in the room. I’m that terrified. Then I began to wonder, do induced deliveries hurt more than “natural” deliveries? “Natural" meaning when you go into labor without help — even though we all know that every labor is natural.

I asked Dr. Kecia Gaither, an OB-GYN and maternal fetal medicine physician if the rumors I’ve read on the internet were true, and that induced labor hurts worse than natural labor. Gaither says while it’s difficult to quantitate a person’s pain threshold, for some women, it may feel more painful, while for others, it may not. Dr. Adeeb Khalifeh, a maternal fetal medicine attending tells Romper, “Induction of labor contractions does not increase the intensity of contractions per se. However, the time the patient is exposed to contractions is longer, and that involves the time spent in cervical ripening, or softening of the cervix, and also involves a longer time in early stages of labor.”

Great. So what am I in for then? How do they induce labor at the hospital? I’ve heard a scary-sounding hook is involved. Gaither says, “For an induction, generally, the medical provider will examine the cervix to note the position, degree of effacement (thinning), and dilation. Depending on what is found, an agent may be given vaginally to cause the cervix to soften, thin, and move forward in the vagina.” Then after a period of time, depending on the mother, Pitocin will be given intravenously until your contractions are “of a particular strength and frequency,” Gaither explains. Khalifeh adds that the induction can also be mechanical by “inserting a catheter with a balloon at its tip to mechanically dilate the cervix. Sometimes we use both methods at the same time to speed up the process of delivery.”

As far as the hook device breaking your water, “The obstetrician or the midwife ruptures the membranes with a small instrument called an amnihook that is inserted digitally through the cervix,” Khalifeh says. Gaither says there’s another way to go about breaking water. “The physician has a glove that has a small hook on the index finger — the physician will snag the membranes in the same manner, which causes the membranes to rupture.”

What about C-sections? Are my chances of having to have a C-section increased by 50 percent like “Dr. Google” said? Khalifeh says no. “It was always thought that induction of labor increases the risk of cesarean deliveries. However many studies recently have shown that this is not true for full-term pregnancies, especially when the cervix is ripened and ready for induction." Gaither adds, “I think each clinical scenario is different; I wouldn’t generalize and say that 50 percent of inductions result in operative deliveries.”

Well, let’s hope my pain tolerance grows by the time I have to deliver this baby and that I can deal with the early stages of labor being longer. Thankfully, in some pregnancy message boards I read through, a lot of women said their labor was less painful being induced than it was with their other baby who came without induction. (And they liked having a better idea of how long labor would be.) Whichever way you choose (or don’t get to choose) how you deliver your baby, you’re still a warrior and did a miraculous thing. Good luck, pregnant mamas.

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