When I discovered I had to be induced in order to safely deliver my second child I was scared out of my mind. Not only was an induction not part of my birth plan, but as a pregnant person I had heard horror stories about inductions and how they can derail certain labor and delivery experiences. Thankfully, there are ways to support a mom during induction — even a mom as freaked out as me — to ease any fears she may or may not have. For example: keep your "induction horror stories" to yourself.
I was made to feel as if being induced was some sort of moral failing on my part; like I had done something "wrong" leading up to childbirth. Turns out, sadly, I'm not alone. Many women who have been induced have told me that they were made to feel like they had failed somehow, simply because they weren't able to go into labor on their own or decided to be induced for a variety of legitimate and personal reasons. There isn't a single mom on the planet who should be told that her baby's birth was less amazing because she needed some help to get things started, and no woman going into labor should feel as though she failed simply because her plans changed.
That's why those of us who've been there recommend a number of ways to support moms-to-be through the often long, boring, and unpredictable process that is induction. For starters, you should feed them, encourage them, give them space, and support them in using whatever pain management they need to get through their birth experience. Always remind them that just because that experience started at the hospital doesn't make it less valid than if the experience had started spontaneously. The mom in your life can do it, induction and all, and she deserves to have your full support along the way.
"It of course depends on the person being induced. I didn't want anyone around or anything until I was closer to having the baby. I appreciated that my husband and friends stayed away. I only had my labor and delivery nurse in the room and had the lights turned down from cervical ripening to epidural.
Once I got the epidural my doula was there helping the nurse position me, but keeping it low-key helped conserve my energy. Also, you should tell them to eat. My nurse suggested I have a proper breakfast and that helped because I didn't get to eat for more than 24 hours after that."
"What I remember most was that I thought I had it all under control, and then they broke my water. OMG. [The pain] went from about a six straight to an 11. If I ever had to do an induction again I would insist on an epidural before letting them break my water."
"Let them update you. Don’t hound them for updates."
"The Pitocin with my last birth made the contractions so much more painful than my previous two. I'd recommend letting someone know that Pitocin does that (no one told me), and having a good pain management strategy in place is important. No matter how 'tough' someone is, it's OK to not have to power through it unmedicated."
"I was induced as my blood pressure got high and the doctor felt it better not to wait. From the time I arrived at the hospital to the time my daughter was born was 36 hours.
For support, don’t tell the parent that they shouldn’t be induced, that it is unnatural, prolongs labor, or is bad for the baby. Many moms like me don’t have a choice, so why say stuff that will scare them or make them feel like crap?
You should find out ahead of time how they’d like to communicate — are calls and texts OK or would they rather update people when there’s news to share? Please ask first if they want you to come to the hospital or just wait until baby is born. I asked everyone to stay home, anticipating a long labor. I knew I would be worried about people waiting, and since my labor took 36 hours I’m glad I did.
I also recommend offering to drop by food or coffee for their partner. My husband got to eat more than me, but not much. Since the date of the baby’s birth is known in advance, you could pitch in by watching pets, organizing a meal train, or shoveling snow while the parents are busy making life."
"Have a point person that is not the person in labor to provide updates (and don’t hound them). My induction took four days, and I probably would have strangled anyone pestering me during that time because I was so sick and anxious. Send comfort items, like fuzzy socks, favorite snacks, an eye mask, etc. with said point person. Also, let them freaking sleep. Sleep is so damn important, especially because there is often so much going on at once. Every minute of rest really counts."
"Don’t tell moms it’s cheating to get an induction. I was induced a week early due to spiking blood pressure and preeclampsia risk. I went in for what I thought would be a check up and ended up being induced. I work with a pregnant woman who said she hoped she isn’t induced cause 'it’s cheating.' I’m not even sure what she meant by it, but I was weirdly insulted and it has kinda stuck with me."
"I learned a lot from my first induction that I didn’t do for my second.
I didn’t give anyone any updates. I told everyone to basically leave us alone and we would announce when we had news. The stress of people constantly checking in was overwhelming. If you are not there, just wait until you are notified. And don't just show up at the hospital or act sad/upset/mad because you can’t be there.
If you are the person who is there, be prepared to be there a while. Inductions can take a long time. Have stuff to keep you occupied. Have secret snacks for the laboring mom, because she will need it.
And remind them that inductions are OK. You aren’t failing because you are having one. It’s hard to rationalize that when you are in the moment."
"Don't go to the hospital. Mine took about three days. And knowing everyone was in the lobby waiting for me did not help. Just go home and we’ll call you. Learned my lesson, though. I never told anyone when I was in labor after that birth."