8 Tips to Prepare for an Induction
Very few couples plan on having their labor induced, but an estimated 20-40% of pregnancies are induced! That's a lot!
This blog post isn't going to get into the nitty-gritty about whether or not you should get induced. The truth is that the induction rate is far too high, and many couples are not adequately informed of the risks of induction. BUT...that's another topic for another day.
This blog post is going to give you 8 practical things you can do to prepare for an induction TODAY. Some are things that you should do regardless if you end up getting induced or not, and others are induction specific. And because I know you all LOVE to know what to pack in your hospital bag - I give some specific items to pack for induction 🧳
Continue reading to feel more confident and ready for your birth, no matter what happens!
#1: Take a deep breath
The news that you need to be induced can cause even the most even-tempered mom to freak out a little. Stories on social media about intense Pitocin contractions & emergency c-sections certainly don't help.
If you find yourself feeling anxious, take a moment to breathe. Preferably, go outside for a walk. Take deep, belly breaths and remind yourself that you can do this. Millions of moms have babies every year, and the vast majority of them are successfully induced. You WILL birth your baby safely and with grace.
#2: Pack your bag for a longer stay
Your induction may happen quickly, or it may take place over the course of days. Pack for the "worst-case" scenario! I recommend bringing:
Multiple pairs of underwear (you should be allowed to wear underwear, especially at the beginning of your induction).
Toiletries & shower-stuff
Mask & ear plugs
Comfy labor gown (but make sure it has openings for monitoring and an epidural if you choose to get one)
Your own pillow
Extra blankets (for you and dad)
Entertainment (more on that below)
#3 Pack plenty of entertainment
Inductions can take a long time, especially if you're being induced with a cervical ripener or balloon first. Those can take a while to work & are sometimes without a ton of painful contractions (of course every mom's experience is different).
I recommend bringing entertainment that's distracting & easy to consume. Don't bring a textbook or classic novel that requires focus 😉
My early labors are SUPER long (24+hours), and I binged shows like Gilmore Girls and ANTM - easy to watch and somewhat entertaining. You can also consider a movie marathon! Not all hospitals have TVs or streaming options in the rooms, so be sure to bring a computer or tablet along with earphones for both of you.
#4 Assemble your support team
We recommend having labor support no matter what type of birth you plan, but a support team is especially important with an induction. You'll want someone to bounce decisions off of, give you back massages, and support you mentally, just to name a few reasons.
Your partner is the first person you should consider as a part of your support team. In our Birth Class for Couples, we teach exactly what your partner can do to support you. If you feel that you need additional support, a doula is another birth support option.
#5 Know your evidence-based options
This one is HUGE. We find that many couples don't know that hospital policy may not always be evidence-based. You often have more options than you realize, but unfortunately, doctors are typically too busy to discuss every option with you (unless you ask).
For example, ACOG (a leading advisory committee) has recommended that hospitals wait for at least 24 hours before calling a labor "failure to progress" and delivering the baby via cesarean. Yet, I hear of many moms who are told they need a c-section well before the 24-hour mark.
...which brings me to my next tip:
#6 Be patient
Labor is a huge mental game. If a doctor comes and recommends a c-section, you may feel relieved and consent to one without fully understanding the risks and implications, especially if you're a first-time mom. This isn't to say that c-sections are bad. I personally have had one! They are life-saving medical interventions when used appropriately.
Here's a mental shift that you can make to help you be more patient:
Your labor has not started the moment you arrive for your induction. In fact, you are not considered to be in active labor until you reach 6cm dilated.
So sit back and relax (as much as you can) until that point!
#7 Be sure to eat plenty of food before your induction begins
Have a big, protein-filled meal before you go in for your induction. Hospitals vary on their policies about eating and drinking. There's plenty of evidence to support eating during labor, especially early labor. You may not feel much like eating later on, but be sure to drink fluids.
There's a ton to discuss re: eating during labor - too much to cover here. Our birth class covers all of this if you want to know more.
#8 Partners: know comfort measures!
It's best practice to wait until active labor for an epidural, but just because you're not in "active labor" doesn't mean that you won't have painful contractions. Every mom experiences pain differently, and it's true that the medications given for induction can cause more intense or frequent contractions.
This is when a trained support person can really come in handy. Comfort measures such as the double hip squeeze can make or break your ability to manage contraction pain. It's also possible to be induced without an epidural (in most cases this would be if your labor goes quickly).
The room environment can also help promote calm. There's nothing more stressful than trying to labor under the bright fluorescent lights in most hospital rooms. Dim those lights, bring some electronic candles or twinkle lights, and like we tell our birth class students: RELAX.
I hope these tips helped you feel confident and have the right perspective on your induction. Inductions can be positive and joyful experiences with the right preparation. You got this!