When you begin preparing for an induced birth, the first question to ask and understand is, why is your labour being induced? Ask your caregiver to explain to you the reasons why induction is required, it’s important you know what’s happening and the process of the induction.
There are things you can do to prepare for an induction, these can be impacted by the timing of your upcoming birth, sometimes the timing will be out of your control. For instance, does your baby need to be born within the next few days or is your induction required within the next 24 hours?
As every woman and baby is unique, so too will be your birth. You can ask if your cervix (the bottom part of your uterus) is ready to labour? Has it begun to prepare and soften, or has this process not yet commenced?
Has your baby started to enter your pelvis or is the baby’s head still high? Labour progress isn’t just about the cervix opening but also your baby making their way down and into the pelvis in order to be born (contractions help achieve this). As your baby descends into the pelvis they are better able to apply pressure to the cervix which will likely stimulate labour progress.
How many weeks of gestation are you? Are you experiencing any uterine tightening already (period-like discomfort)? Answers to these two questions give us information about just how ‘ready’ you are physically and hormonally to labour. An induction of labour for a woman at 37 weeks with no uterine tightening is potentially different from a woman who is 40 weeks with lots of period like cramping.
Is this your first baby? Have you laboured before?
First labours are generally longer than subsequent labours, even with an induction of labour.
Each induction will have unique features some of which can be foreseen and others follow the unique twists and turns of any labour.
Answering or knowing the answers to the questions above will help you prepare for your labour? They will help build realistic expectations and help you feel empowered and informed.
The day before your induction:
The day before your induction would ideally be one, where you rested/napped often, ate lots of delicious and nutritious food, remained well hydrated and soaked up every opportunity for mindfulness. But because you are likely in advanced pregnancy you are probably experiencing sleep disturbances, altered digestion/appetite and some anxiousness about your upcoming induction.
There are no official rules about – ‘Getting Ready for your Induction of Labour’ but here are some things that can help:
If you already have children it might be worth getting a close friend or family to have them for an overnight stay. This way you’re more likely to be able to get some down time in the evening before your induction. As your mind begins to be distracted by thoughts of your baby’s upcoming birth, the chance to wander around your house, contemplating the changes about to come can be very welcomed. A walk, long shower/bath, phone calls, whatever makes you feel ‘good’.
If you don’t have the opportunity or would rather not, then consider ‘checking out’ of the bedtime routine so you can get some time just to ‘relax’ around your house.
Reframing your expectations is very important. Generally speaking, the time spent in establishing labour (the early part) is shorter in an induction of labour. This can come as a surprise. Rather than waiting for ‘labour and contractions’ to find you, consider getting off the bed and sitting on a fit ball, welcome gravity (pressure on your cervix) invite the good hormones of labour (Oxytocin and Endorphins), talk with your midwife and get to know her/him (this will help your partner/support person feel connected to). Create an environment that you can feel comfortable in. Many women want to wear a hospital gown (the white kind that is tied up at the back) but you are also able to wear whatever you feel comfortable in.
In the days before an induction of labour, it would be helpful to maximize your fibre and fluid intake to help regulate your bowels (don’t have a HOT curry the night before). If your induction is booked for a morning start, then have a light breakfast (easy to digest) before you come in.
Have your hospital bag ready to go, adding a post-it note to the top of it of things to add as you leave the house (i.e toothbrush, shampoo and phone charger).
If you have been antenatal expressing remember to bring it in with you in a cooler bag.