There is a lot to get done as you head to your due date or before an induction. Some of it is education, but there is also preparation for your hospital stay and for how you will feel before you come home!
Hi, I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 With ALL that exprience, I have started THOUSANDS of inductions (including having my own — after many tears). So, I’m actually an expert on this.
Before we get started, make sure that you’re giving yourself the confident birth you deserve. In just a FEW hours I can get you prepared!
Keep in mind that MOST often they won’t start an induction on pregnant women until you’re 37-38 weeks of pregnancy — and even then (or earlier) your healthcare provider will need to provide a good reason you need to be induced.
And by ALL MEANS do NOT do Castor Oil. For reals. Today we’re just talking about starting an induction in the hospital (and we would never use castor oil as it has many risks).
What to Do Before an Induction of Labor:
Talk to your doctor
Before an induction, your doctor has a duty to give you informed consent. Informed consent includes:
- Risks — like a higher risk of a cesarean section, uterine rupture or other potential risks
- Benefits — like stopping any further advancement of your pregnancy complication, or hurting baby’s health
- Alternatives — like waiting
This is especially true of a medically necessary induction. That means an induction because there is a medical reason your provider thinks you need it. They should be very clear on the medical reasons you’re needing an induction for. That helps you pick your best option for delivery, as an informed decision.
Top Reasons Why People Need a Medically Necessary Induction:
You can be induced for various reasons, but the most common reasons ore pregnancy complications include:
- Baby too big (LGA)
- Baby too small (SGA)
- Too little amniotic fluid (low AFI) or too much fluid (polyhydramnios) in the amniotic sac
- Diabetes — gestational diabetes or otherwise
- Preeclampsia — often found with high blood pressure
- Cholestasis (a blockage of your bile duct in pregnancy which can be dangerous)
BTW, I talk a lot about all the test your doctor might order to diagnose the reasons you might need to be induced in my free prenatal class.
I also talk more about these reasons in my post on 37 week inductions, because there should be a pretty good reason to be induced at 37 weeks (like one of those that I listed).
FYI Misoprostol is a cervical ripening agent, and Pitocin is the synthetic of the hormone oxytocin (that our body makes naturally). Other ways to induce include breaking your bag of waters, or using a Foley bulb. Be sure to check out all my induction posts for more info on the specifics of inductions, and all the common methods of induction and the use of medications.
Most often the earlier you are in your pregnancy, it can take a long time for your induction (and if it’s your first pregnancy, it can be even longer). Those who are of a greater gestational age might take less time.
Reasons for an Elective Induction
An elective labor induction is where you make the choice to be induced, and can only be decided for a term pregnancy (so, after 39 weeks of pregnancy). This happens for a lot of healthy pregnancies.
There are a lot of reasons to choose to be induced, but your doctor should still inform you of the risks, benefits and alternatives.
You should also consider all of that carefully as I am a fan of letting mother nature take her course. With an induction of labour there are increased risks (like a cesarean delivery), the less medical interventions we give you. But, many women are so uncomfortable towards the end of pregnancy they desperately need to be induced, and your doctor likely understands such cases.
Of course, if your water breaks, and they have to start pitocin, that’s more of an augmentation vs an induction….
Understand what will happen during your induction.
After you and the doctor make the decision to be induced, it’s time to learn what will happen during your induction process.
I give you a basic idea in this post on how long induction can take.
Your provider can tell you more specifics to your own healthcare situation.
I go through the whole process (I have a whole chapter on it) in this class. I would totally recommend understanding how your labor contractions will progress.
Many times which medication they choose will vary depending on your vaginal exam (which is part of the bishop score — which helps them decide if you’re a good candidate for induction).
Your Last Meal Before Induction
If you have time to eat before your provider sends you in for an induction, choose carefully what you eat. A few tips:
- Don’t eat TOO much — your stomach isn’t built to hold a lot of food while you undergo a stressful event like labor — so it is likely you’ll see that food again as you throw up. A light meal is best. That being said —
- EAT — unless your doctor says not to eat (and I’d find out why), EAT. So many come in from home without having eaten. We may or may not be able to feed you (depending on your doctor’s orders) — so get something to eat.
And honestly, I’d make it something you love. It’s your last meal before motherhood will change a lot — so enjoy it!
I know a lot of people say spicy food will put you into labor, but most women it just gives heartburn — so just eat a light meal that you will enjoy.
Before Induction Checklist
Beyond the medical stuff, there is still plenty to be DONE before you have an induction.
Enjoy the chance you have for a little plan in the un-plannable, and make sure to get these things done or ready:
If you have other kids at home, make sure there is a safe place for your other child(ren). Have a basic idea of what dad will be doing while you’re in the hospital.
I would also recommend trying to prepare as you can
Things to Prepare Before Baby:
Get Ready for Baby
Get the Carseat Ready
The ONE thing you can’t leave the hospital without is the car seat, so be sure to put it in the car and know how to use it.
SO many new parents have no idea how to even use their carseat. And officially we are not allowed to show you how to use it.
Prepare for Postpartum Care
There are some things you’ll also need for your postpartum body:
That checklist has all the things you’ll want — but let me give you the top 3:
LARGE pads — I actually mean Depends (these are adult diapers). This will prevent you from leaking when you sleep or nap (you will bleed a lot in the beginning, and holding your urine might also be an issue).
Some women prefer these washable undies.
I would also recommend getting a couple of packs heavy pads for once you’re not bleeding as much.
I am also a big fan of “padcicles” — I hope to do a video about it soon, but google it and you’ll find some good recipes. You put them on your bum when you’re sore, and sound so great.
Back in the day I just kept Tucks in the fridge — but — padcicles sound better.
I have a whole video on how you’ll take care of your bottom after baby:
Pack your bag
You have a chance to be really methodical about what you put in your bag. i have a whole post that outlines what to put in your hospital bag on my sister blog. It includes a labor bag, postpartum bag, baby bag and a dad bag.
Keep in mind that labor starts pretty slow with an induction, so be sure to pack a few things that can help you pass the time a bit better. It could be a little bit (sometimes even a couple of days) before you’re in active labor (and if it’s your first time having a baby it could be even longer).
Take time for YOU!
Whatever you can do to get som decent sleep the night before your induction, it will be worth it. Things I recommend:
- Relaxing essential oils
- Possibly a benedryl (ask your health care provider) if you’re feeling anxious and can’t stop your brain
- Maybe a long walk before bed to tire you out
- Listening to a meditation that relaxes you!
Write About It
I always recommend expectant parents to write about what they expect parenting to be like, and their goals and aspirations. Someday you’ll look back and happily remember the hope of what things would be like. 🙂
Induction Pro Tip:
While you have an scheduled induction of labor, keep in mind that the hospital can’t always accept you at that time. Perhaps a phone call the night before might help you understand the likelihood of you being “bumped” by someone who has gone into labor or has greater needs than yours.
Hopefully those thought helped get you ready for your induction. I really do think that every couple needs a prenatal class, so if you don’t take mine, please consider taking one that fits you better. Remember that my prenatal class comes at 3 price points to fit your needs!