Updated: Oct 19
After having lots of scans throughout my pregnancy, everyone was convinced my little boy would arrive early. However, 12 days after my due date I was induced due to a past history of choleostasis and as my blood tests had moved from normal to borderline. The decision to induce was actually made just over a week past my due date but due to the hospital being overloaded, I wasn’t a priority so had to wait a bit longer. As I had made the decision following advice from my midwives, I accepted the induction despite previously saying I would do everything to avoid it. I knew it was best for me and the baby and as I then had so much time to think about it once I had made the decision, I was very keen to get it all done!
My first son had been induced and it had been a long and slow process. This had made me a bit nervous but luckily this time once it actually began, it was fairly quick. It wasn’t completely smooth sailing - a midwife tried to put in a cannula but my wriggly veins meant this failed and led to a spectacularly colourful and painful bruise for the next couple of weeks. The midwife also attempted to break my waters, which everyone had been convinced would break spontaneously at some point the week before - but again, this didn’t happen. As a result, I was moved to the delivery room and a doctor came in and very efficiently got a cannula into my hand and my waters broken all within just a few minutes!
Over the next few hours I had a few very mild contractions but nothing significant or consistent, so the decision was made to move me on to the hormone drip. I had spoken to an anaesthetist about an epidural, as I thought this would help me to cope if it was a long labour, but at the last minute I decided to try and avoid it and just to see how things went. This turned out to be the right decision as over the next two hours I went from 4cm to 8cm dilated. I had used just my hypnobirthing breathing techniques and the amazing gas and air to get to this point. The speed at which everything had moved took the midwife by surprise because the first hour after the drip began hadn’t been very eventful and contractions were still slow and far apart, but once she realised how far along I was, she quickly got everything ready just in time as I then yelled I had to push. After just 5-10 minutes of pushing, I was close to giving birth but the baby’s heart rate was dropping so a button was pressed, the room filled up and several doctors and midwives helped to make sure he arrived safely within just a few minutes.
Despite COVID and all the restrictions we had been told about, we got to stay in the delivery room for about six hours as there wasn’t space on the postnatal ward for us. The midwives were so caring and efficient, helping to get all of our checks done quickly so that after a further eight hours we got to go home, ready to introduce our baby to our older son who couldn’t be a prouder big brother.
ANNA'S TOP 5 INDUCTION TIPS:
1. YOU CAN CHOOSE WHICH INDUCTION STAGES TO ACCEPT/DECLINE.
There are a few stages to an induction and you don’t have to do them all! With my first son, I started with a sweep, pessary and then another sweep but this didn’t do anything significant. Instead, I had very uncomfortable mild contractions for the next 36 hours and got nearly no sleep in that time. Following this, agonising long period of time, my waters were broken. It shouldn’t have taken so long to move on to this step, but there was a lack of delivery rooms so I was constantly pushed back in the queue. Once my waters were broken, not much happened so I was then moved to the drip. With my second son, I declined the pessary or gel as I didn’t want to be in the same situation, as again the hospital (and a different one this time) was overloaded! This meant that the process was a lot quicker and I knew that I would probably end up on the drip anyway, so saved myself a lot of energy that was vital for the labour
2. KEEP AN OPEN DIALOGUE WITH YOUR HCPS
Have open discussions with your healthcare professionals. I talked through all of the options with everyone involved - a midwife, consultant and anaesthetist. When an induction was first raised with me, I explained to the midwife who was advising it that I didn’t want this and she was a little short with me! However, when I explained my first childbirth and how it hadn’t been particularly positive, she softened. This discussion about my feelings helped the communication throughout and a few days later, the same midwife who had been a bit abrupt was the one who helped make sure I was a priority after several days of waiting and back and forth to the hospital. Furthermore, when I ultimately decided against an epidural, the anaesthetist promised that she would still check in with me to see how I was doing and said that turning it down before the drip didn’t mean I had to have it ruled out completely
3. ONCE YOU'VE MADE YOUR DECISION, FOCUS ON THE POSITIVES.
Don’t be disappointed - I had said early on in my pregnancy that I would never have an induction again unless it was really absolutely needed. However, once we realised that this was probably going to happen I decided to embrace it rather than push against it, and I made a list of the benefits and fully assessed it against the BRAIN acronym. I was pretty fed up being pregnant as I was so overdue and it was reassuring knowing that I would be at the hospital when I gave birth - it was always my plan to have a hospital birth so avoiding the potential sudden surprise home birth was something I was relieved about. Furthermore, I knew how my body might react to the process so felt much more prepared this time. I realised that it was the lack of control or knowledge about what might happen in an induction from my first birth that had made me nervous. Being able to tell the midwives that I wanted to skip the pessary and more or less go straight to the drip felt more empowering, and it also made me feel confident it would be a more positive process
4. HAVE DISTRACTIONS READY- THE INDUCTION PROCESS CAN BE LONG.
Be prepared for lots of waiting - I’m not the most patient person so having lots of distractions helped me through the hours when not a lot was happening and I knew it was just a countdown of time before starting the drip. To avoid getting frustrated or stressed about this, my husband and I ate snacks, played a card game and watched some tv. I was surprised with how much this helped to stop me focusing on watching the clock.
5. GET UPDATES ON TIMELINES FOR STARTING INDUCTION FROM YOUR HCPS- YOU MIGHT GET AN EXTRA NIGHT"S REST IN YOUR OWN BED.
Speak to the midwives about the capacity at the hospital before the process is started. On the first day we went for the induction to apparently begin, there were three women ahead of me who had already been waiting a while and all of the delivery rooms were full. I managed to persuade the midwives to just do some monitoring and send me home so I could get a proper night’s sleep in my own bed. This happened the second day as well - knowing how busy the hospital was and where I was on their list meant that we avoided being in hospital for so long before the process was actually started. This was a good idea because women were still coming to the ward in labour and priority has to be given to them ahead of planned inductions. By the time I actually started my induction, one of the women who I had chatted to a few days earlier had only just given birth - she had been in for around five days at that point. It is obviously difficult to tell what might happen and whether lots of women will suddenly go into labour right after your induction is started, but it helps to get an idea of how long you might be waiting. This was something I hadn’t even thought about before my first son was born and wasn’t just due to COVID.