When you’re pregnant, you imagine your waters breaking at the most inconvenient of times. You know, like when you’re asleep, getting your hoo-ha waxed, or before you have your morning coffee. Probably after you tried all the ~*natural*~ ways of inducing labour. Wink, wink. Not many people imagine their midwives waving a hook around their insides and breaking your bag of waters. I know I didn’t think that way. Until I was told that I was being induced.
I remember being hot, huge, sore and just over it. I wanted that baby out and I wanted him out now. You would have thought that I felt relieved when I found out that it was almost over. Uh, no. I was suddenly petrified. You would have thought that being a ticking time-bomb was scary, but it was actually kind of…fun. Now, being told that you were going to go into labour on a specific date (thereabouts) was scary.
When I think about ‘inducing labour‘, I think about fun things like driving over speed bumps, eating spicy food and pineapples, having sex (which definitely wouldn’t be fun at thirty-seven weeks pregnant), and going for a walk (also not fun at thirty-seven weeks pregnant). I never thought that inducing labour would mean lying around in bed, scrolling Twitter, and stuffing my face with Burger Rings.
I was told a lot of things about how you go about inducing labour whilst at hospital. None of it sounded fun. All of it sounded painful. All of it was surrounded by ‘every person is different’ and ‘but this is what typically happens’. I remember reading about Leah’s induction, and – quite frankly – it petrified me.
I couldn’t help but question if this was something that I could do. Spoiler alert: it was.
1. It might not take as long as they say.
I was told to expect nothing for at least twenty-four hours while they went through the process of opening my cervix. Hell, they told me that sometimes a method of induction doesn’t work the first time, so they have to start again or swap to a different method. They told me it wasn’t unusual for a first time mum to be stuck in this part of labour for forty-eight hours. Uh, no thank you.
Caelen was a growth restricted baby, so that automatically ruled out any hormonal/medical methods of inducing labour. Instead, I was given a Cooks Catheter, which apparently felt like sitting on an orange. I don’t know how many women have sat on oranges before, but it did not feel like that. More like someone had shoved a dildo up there and then left the room. Disappointing.
I was told that the catheter rarely falls out on its own (ew), but I was still restricted to the hospital and my room as I had to be monitored every couple of hours. I think my body had a ‘fuck that‘ moment because the catheter fell out seven hours later.
2. You might not need drugs.
I think I’ve watched a little too much of reality TV shows like 16 & Pregnant because I have always associated inducing labour with Pitocin. I think every expectant mother knows that using Pitocin makes everything one thousand times worse, and I was absolutely terrified at the thought of it.
Luckily for me, my body kept up this ‘oh hell no‘ stance and I was able to avoid the non-fun drugs.
3. You might start contracting straight away.
Contractions were part of the reason why I had a ‘natural’ way of opening my cervix. I was told that gels (ew) can cause you to contract before your cervix was ready, which would put unnecessary stress on the baby and on your body. I, however, started having ‘practice contractions’ within ten minutes of the catheter being placed. They just felt like really bad period cramps. You know, the ones that make you swear, curl into a ball and want to die. I didn’t think it could get any worse than that. Believe me – it can, and it does.
Luckily for me, the contractions stopped, so they didn’t have to intervene or stop my induction. I know my friend, Maisie, had her induction stopped and started over several days, and I can’t imagine how frustrating that would have been!
4. Being examined sucks.
I think I had five people look at my ladybits before I got transferred to the labour and delivery ward. Midwives, doctors and nurses floated in and out of my room as they placed the catheter. After the catheter fell out, another doctor and his assistant took a little look as they tried to figure out how far I had dilated. That was super fun. Read: it sucked. No one warned me for how much that hurt. I was checked again after I was transferred to labour and delivery as my midwife broke the bag of waters.
Do I even have to mention what happened to me after labour? Needless to say, I didn’t want anyone to touch me or even look at me for a very, very long time.
5. Women scream. A lot. You will hear them.
Seems like a ‘no duh’ moment. I mean, you’re in a labour and delivery ward. What did you expect? Logically, I knew that I was going to hear people screaming; however, I wasn’t prepared for it. At all. Hearing people scream from the pain when you weren’t technically ‘in labour’ yet was terrifying. I just about grabbed my bags and ran out the door. At that moment, Caelen could have lived in my uterus for the rest of his life. No big deal. I’m a pretty chill person, but that almost pushed me over the edge.
In labour, I swore like a sailor, cried, screamed and was just generally loud…and I had an epidural. I don’t want to think about what I would have been like if I didn’t have one.
Labour is scary.
Inducing labour is scarier. It feels so…unnatural to force the body to do the most natural thing in the world. It definitely wasn’t what I had in mind when it came to bringing my son into the world, but I’m grateful that I had the support of the whole hospital for the experience. (Even if most of them ended up looking at my car-crash ladybits).
- Ask every question under the sun, especially if being induced wasn’t in your birth plan. You aren’t being a nuisance. They aren’t going to think that you’re an idiot. In fact, they’d probably be more concerned if you didn’t have any questions to ask!
- Bring entertainment! Lots of it. I had books, my iPhone, and an iPad loaded with movies/series to keep me entertained. My induction was quick, but yours might not be.
- Walk. I walked a lot during the first half of the induction process. I believe it really did speed things up.
- Eat (and drink). I was a ball of nerves and didn’t want to eat anything nutritional, which is a major no-no. Load up on good food (or anything you can stomach) because you aren’t allowed to eat as soon as you get transferred to labour and delivery.
- Keep your support people close. You know, for entertainment purposes. The induction process is boring and scary at the same time. I don’t know what I would have done if my mum couldn’t have been with me.
- Relax. You need your energy for the actual labour, so try not to stress yourself out or get too wound up about the situation. Heck – have a nap if you can manage it! I didn’t get transferred to labour and delivery until 9pm, and I was just tired.
- Stay positive – you’re going to meet your baby soon!
…And mama? You got this.