Chances are if you are reading our labor induction story, you want to know what it is like to be medically induced?
The thought of an induction can be really scary, whether or not this is your first pregnancy. So, I will try to explain the process of induction, at least in the way it happened for me, so you will go in armed with an idea of what to expect.
This is going to be a mother load of a post so before you try to read it in one sitting, I suggest you go ahead and pin this. That way you can pick up where you left off.
Common reasons to be induced
Before I go into my personal experience, I just wanted to mention some common reasons that women have to undergo an induction of labor.
- Premature rupture of membranes (PROM) or prolonged rupture of membranes (greater than 24 hours)
- Hypertension and preeclampsia
- Gestational diabetes
- Being greater than 42 weeks pregnant in which the placenta starts to degrade
- Chorioamnionitis (infection of the uterus)
- Small for gestational age fetal growth
- Placenta separating from uterine wall (although this will likely end up with a cesarean)
In my case I was induced for premature AND prolonged rupture of membranes.
As much as I wish that I would have gone all the way to term so my body could initiate labor on its own, I remember also feeling somewhat relieved to be admitted to the hospital for induction. I was so uncomfortable at the end of pregnancy and just excited to meet our little boy.
In hindsight, I think the stress from my job and the long hours on my feet contributed to my PROM. I wish I would have done a better job to prepare my body for the end of pregnancy.
I was 37 weeks and 6 days when I knew something was wrong and had a gut feeling I should go to the hospital.
What alerted me to go to the hospital
It was around 11:30 pm on May 28 that I woke up for my 1st of many nightly bathroom trips. My new normal routine was to pee around 5 times a night. It was always SO disappointing when only a few drops came out!
This particular time, as soon as I went from a horizontal to a vertical position, fluid was coming out. Now trust me I have had my fair share of pregnancy “leaks,” so I questioned this.
I leaked my way to the bathroom, sat down to pee, and tried with all my might to get it all out so I could sleep as long as possible. I had to work the next day after all!
The thing was, I continued to have these little drips.
Sometimes it was just one drip, but as I sat there contemplating it, more splashed in the water intermittently.
I wondered if my water could have possibly broken. I also still felt the urge to pee (I felt this way the entire last month of pregnancy so this was nothing new).
I decided there was only one way to tell….the sniff test.
Sorry if that is too much information but it was the only way I could be sure I was dealing with amniotic fluid and not urine.
What I smelled was a sort of sweet-tangy smell. My mind goes back to that commercial for the orange drink with the monkeys…”Tang to the extreme, if you dare, vitamin C, screaming orange taste.” (I doubt anyone knows what I am talking about.)
I don’t know how else to describe the way amniotic fluid smells.
It was almost midnight by the time I decided to wake my husband up and tell him I think we should go to the hospital. He was completely out of it of course and didn’t believe me because I was not having any contractions.
We didn’t want to risk it, so on we went!
Where our labor induction story begins
We walked into the ER and as soon as they saw my massive belly they immediately directed us to follow the green signs to L&D.
Once we were checked into the right department they placed me in a small room with a fetal monitor, had me lose the clothes, and put on a hospital gown.
From there a nurse practitioner did an exam and took a swab of my cervix. The little swab she used turned blue (a positive indicator of amniotic fluid).
Just to be sure she took a sample of the cervical fluid and did a fern test. This is essentially looking at the fluid under microscope and it will look like little fern leaves if it is positive for amniotic fluid.
She left for a few minutes and then came back in telling me that it was positive and I would be admitted to L&D.
All about Labor and what induction feels like
Since it was still the middle of the night, the plan was to admit me to L&D, monitor my contractions and my baby’s heart rate, and hope that my body went into active labor. Considering I wasn’t feeling even the slightest amount of pain, I wasn’t going to hold my breath for the active labor part!
I tried to get a bit of sleep but it was almost impossible. I was too nervous!
Related: How to sleep better while pregnant
The nurses change shifts at 7 am and 7 pm. The day shift nurse came in around 8:30 with a bag of Pitocin. For those of you who don’t know, Pitocin is a synthetic version of the hormone oxytocin, which causes contractions.
I have heard horror stories of people being put on Pitocin. As she was hooking it up, I was holding my breath waiting to feel the effects.
My nurse started me on a low dose. I felt nothing. It doesn’t burn when it is going in your veins. The nurse will come back every 30 minutes and increased the continuous infusion dose. As long as you have fluid in your uterus you will still have a cushion for the contractions. I honestly still felt nothing at this point.
By the time my close friends and family started to arrive, I was almost the halfway point on the titration of Pitocin.
My nerves were still high and felt like I needed to use the bathroom, number 2! I had all these people in my room and didn’t want to use the bathroom, but my husband kindly urged me to go. If I had any advice for anyone it would be to try to go to the bathroom before you start pushing. Empty that tank!
I was almost on the maximum dose of Pitocin and was starting to feel a little uncomfortable. It felt like bad period cramps. I’d call the pain about a 5 on a scale from 1-10. At that point I was still talking, joking, and eating jello (but secretly thinking, this sucks, I hope we have made some progress).
Yes, they let you have a clear liquid diet while in labor at the hospital now and that jello was almost like eating chocolate cake! Apparently there is new evidence-based practice that women need to eat while they are in labor. Go effing figure.
**Insider information here: The reason they used to not let you eat is because if anything “bad” happened, they want your stomach to be empty so they can put you to sleep and put a breathing tube down your throat. It is a precaution so the contents of your stomach don’t regurgitate into your lungs. This will cause pneumonia and you could potentially have a very bad outcome.
There are two key factors to understand when I say my pain was a five. For 1) I have a high pain tolerance, and 2) although I did have a leak, my amniotic sac was still full and in place and was cushioning my contractions. I just want you to be able to keep that in mind when thinking about your pain tolerance and experience with labor.
After my nurse put me on the maximun dose of Pitocin, she waited another 2 hours to let it work and then checked to see my progress. I went from 3 cm to 4 cm.
That was not the progress I was hoping for.
She informed me that the doctor was going to come and break my membranes. Once again, I didn’t know what to expect.
I asked her if I could have an epidural before they broke my water. The nurse informed me that I could labor in other ways such as bouncing on a ball or walking around.
I reluctantly agreed.
Everyone left the room except my husband, best friend, and sister (my mom was from out of town and wasn’t here yet, I was early).
The doctor came in with a long plastic hook. Honestly, I did not feel anything other than a big gush of warm fluid.
Then the nurse got me out of bed and I sat on a big ball. Everything seemed to be ok until I was firmly sitting on the ball.
All of a sudden I got tunnel vision and felt like I was going to faint. The pain started locally in my lady parts and spread like wildfire through my body.
My husband helped me back into bed and it took everything in my power to fall into it. The nurse came back in and could tell the alternative labor methods were not working.
I did not take a Lamaze class during pregnancy. I don’t know if that would have helped with the pain of a synthetically induced labor anyway.
Getting an epidural
There was absolutely no way on the face of this planet I could have labored and push through the amount of pain that the contractions were causing.
I don’t have natural labor for personal comparison, but I have read that the pain gradually increases until you get to a tipping point and this is when most women give up and beg for the epidural.
(As a side note, I have every intention of trying to go natural and stay out of the hospital for my next pregnancy. Once you are on the other side of birth you realize how absolutely amazing it is.)
The pain with induction seemed to happen all at once for me.
It took about 45 minutes from the time they broke my membranes until my epidural was in and working. As soon as I was able to relax a bit, my nurse checked me and told me it was time to push.
I my body went from 3 cm to 10 cm in 45 minutes. Ouch!
Time to push
I had watched countless of youtube videos about labor, what you need for a baby, what to expect the first day home. I guess I missed the part that I actually had to physically assist my body in expelling my baby. So needless to say, I wasn’t prepared for the whole pushing aspect of this.
They want you to push with contractions. If you have an epidural, you likely won’t be able to tell. I did the best I could when I was instructed.
The nurse or in my case, my husband watched the monitor and instructed me when a contraction was coming. They have you “push” for a count of 10, take a breathe, and do it again, for a total of 3 times with each contraction.
The time in between contractions is for resting and catching your breath. It is extremely hard not to fall asleep during these short moments.
Now, I didn’t know how to push (another good reason to take a lamaze class or have a doula). I think I was basically tensing up my entire body at first. I asked the nurse if I was doing it right but she was not very helpful.
It was in fact, my husband, (with no uterus at all) who told me to visualize pulling my belly button into my spine by tightening my abs as much as possible. He told me to try to focus on this one area of my body while relaxing the rest.
This was probably the most helpful thing he has ever done for me in life. I am forever grateful to him for this small advice.
I was able to change positions as I still had some control over my legs. I think this is because I never pushed the button for a demand dose of pain medication through my epidural.
Being upright and allowing gravity to assist with the downward motion of the baby is the most natural birthing position. However as you get closer to delivery, they will make you get on your back again. (I really hope I can do this with a midwife next time.)
After his head was out, the doctor let me pull the remaining part of his body out with my hands. I pulled him out and brought him to my chest.
It was the greatest feeling in the world to hold my first child for the first time. I straight up UGLY cried.
He was here! 10 fingers, 10 toes, and chubby cheeks. My body was beyond exhausted, more than any workout or long run has ever made me feel before.
If anyone ever tries to make you feel bad for gaining weight in pregnancy you tell them you are prepping for the biggest workout of your life!
The nurses work so quickly to get everything cleaned up. If you get induced, they use a slow drip of pitocin to encourage your uterus to contract down and seal off the bleeding.
They give you a lot of fluids in L&D, especially if you get an epidural. So be prepared for swelling. Like cankles, press on your foot and it leaves a giant pit swelling. It takes about 5 days to resolve. Walking will help with that.
After the dust settles and your epidural has been off for a while, they will want you to get up and walk to the bathroom.
I forgot to mention earlier if you need an epidural they will put a foley catheter inside your bladder. Basically, it is a little tube that collects your pee because the epidural blocks your ability to urinate. I didn’t feel them placing this at all and they immediately remove it once the baby was coming out.
I was a bit wobbly at first, but it takes time for the feeling in your legs to come back after they shut the epidural off.
They give you a bottle called a peri-bottle and instruct you to fill it with warm water and use it to squirt your lady bits after you pee. Trust me this was the best thing I felt all day other than holding my son.
A little bit of numbing spray, an adult-sized diaper pad, and some grandma underwear and you are carted off to the sleepless land of the mother-baby unit. This is where we stayed for the remainder of our time in the hospital and where this story ends.
Related: Breastfeeding tips for new moms
Are you planning to breastfeed?
Take the ultimate online breastfeeding course, with easy to digest video formatted instructions.
Get STEP by STEP instructions for EVERYTHING you need to know about BREASTFEEDING.
Its the best $19 dollars you will ever spend.