Sometimes babies need a little encouragement to come Earthside. Whether that’s because they’ve overstayed their welcome (Hello, 42 weekers), or because medically, your baby is safer on the outside than in, or because it’s your choice; inductions are often a reality of the birth world.
If you’re facing an induction soon, here are Five Things you should consider doing to make the experience a little less stressful.
Live in the Moment
Unless your induction is urgent and very unexpected, you likely will have at least a few moments or even hours, or days, before you’ll head into the hospital to begin the process. The tendency is to go into hyper-drive, checking off and re-checking every item on our to-do lists (Type-As, I get you. I am you.). But also, remember that these are the final days in which your family will exist as it is right now. Relish this time together.
If you have only a little time before your induction, take a few deep breaths. Visualize the birth you want. Give yourself a few minutes to wrap your minds around a quickly-changing birth plan. Even a few minutes to settle into the idea of induction can help you start from a place of empowerment.
If you have hours before your induction, go get lunch with your partner. Grab a tea and a treat, and talk through your fears and goals. What’s feeling scary right now? What’s feeling manageable? What questions do you have? What do you need more information about?
If it’s a scheduled induction, take time to yourself and as partners, in the day(s) before you meet your baby. Get a pedicure, go see a movie, go on a really, ridiculously romantic date. Be selfish.
Make The Space Your Own
One of the hardest parts of inductions for some families is that it removes that early labor cocooning, pretend-that-labor-isn’t-happening phase from your birth plan. Bring a little home-away-from-home into your hospital birthing space by personalizing and getting comfy.
It’s true that staying at home as long as you’re comfortable is what we typically recommend. That's because, you’ll be better equipped to cope with contractions in your own space, with your own smells, and within your own environment. But you can replicate a lot of those creature comforts within your hospital room.
Wear your own clothes, and bring your own toiletries. Have a really fuzzy, warm blanket? Bring it. Can you only sleep with an elaborate array of pillows? Yep, hospital pillows are notoriously pancake-flat, so bring your own. You might also bring along pictures to hang on your walls, or even better, birth affirmations or reminders of a comforting and relaxing space. Consider making a playlist and bring speakers to fill the space with non-hospital sounds. (Some hospitals have noise machines, but most don’t.) Bring alternative lighting like twinkle (AKA: Christmas) lights, or LED candles. It’ll help at night when you need to around the space (or if your nurse needs to check in on you), but don’t want the bright (intrusive)hospital lights. What about smells? Check with your hospital to find out if they allow aromatherapy within their L&D floor, and if so, bring along scents that help evoke relaxation and peacefulness.
Use your B.R.A.I.N.
We mean this literally, of course; but we also encourage you to seek the opportunity to give informed consent to every choice presented to you during your induction process, by using your B.R.A.I.N questions.
Provider are humans, and all humans are creatures of habit. Your midwife or OB may be making a recommendation (say, for example, when choosing an induction method) because it’s in your best interest, or they may recommend something because it’s what they always do and it’s their preference. But! They’re likely open to talking about other options as well. So, ask them!
Asking about the Benefits, Risks and Alternatives, as well as checking in with your Intuition, or asking what will happen if you choose to say “Not Now”, or what happens if you do Nothing, will help you collect all the info you’ll need to make a choice that’s best for you, and your baby.
If you’re planning for an induction, or are facing one soon, you’re getting a first-hand lesson in flexibility right now.
You may have had a very different vision for your birth experience; one that might not have included all the things that come along with an induction (consistent monitoring, IV fluids, cervical exams, to name a few). Allow yourself the time and space to grieve the loss of that original plan (See Point Number 1, above), and then start looking for places to reclaim some of that original vision. Can you ask for wireless, waterproof monitoring? Is there another induction method available that doesn’t require an IV? How many cervical exams are medically necessary, and how many are you comfortable consenting to?
Have conversations with your care provider head of your induction and talk honestly and openly about what matters most to you. Ask for their help and how they can maintain the spirit of your original birth goals.
Then, settle in, because becoming a parent is the supreme life-long lesson in being flexible.
Hire a Doula
You knew this was coming, right? Doulas are a great tool to help make your induction an overall better experience.
Doulas help with the nitty gritty details, like suggesting and helping you find comfortable positions (especially if you are confined to, or near, your bed). We help relieve discomfort with touch, counter pressure, and massage, and coach your partner so they can do this too. We help remind you to the little things like get up and move around, go to the bathroom, or when it’s time to drink something. Inductions can take a long time and hospitals operate on their own schedules, further extending the process. We give your partner or support team a break, so they can rest and fuel themselves when needed.
More importantly, we’re your barometer of normal, and a steady, calm presence in a sometimes intense moment of your lives. Inductions can be physically and emotionally draining, especially if it’s a sudden change to your birth plan. Doulas help you process those emotions, work through your fears and questions. We’re there to remind you of your strength, to offer encouragement when you don’t feel like you have anything left, and we help remind you to take the time to make informed choices (see Point Number 3).
If you're still feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of an induction, we're here to help. Contact us anytime to find out how a birth doula can enhance your birth experience (Induction or not!).