Having an induction can bring up a lot of questions. At least I hope it does. Inducing labor brings more risk than going into labor on your own.
As an RN since 2001 I’ve been asked thousands of questions about induction. I’d love to join you on your pregnancy journey:
I also have an Online Prenatal Class that has an entire chapter about induction. What to expect from the beginning to the end.
Plus 11 other chapters that will get you prepared to have a delivery you’ll love!
Most Common Questions About Induction
What are the benefits of being Induced?
The benefit can be two fold.
- You’re no longer pregnant
- Baby is out
If baby isn’t growing well or there are other risks in the womb, they will induce.
Often, women have their own medical issues or reasons that they’d like the baby out.
Those are the main reasons that people are induced.
That, and doctors going out of town. But that sort of falls under #1.
What are the risks of being induced?
There are a few risks of induction (and you should definitely talk to your doctor about your own risks — I am only speaking in general).
Contractions may be too hard
Sometimes we induce contractions that could be harder than your uterus would produce without induction agents. Babies don’t like to be squeezed too much or for too long (makes sense) so that can be problematic for them.
Your cervix might not open
Your cervix may just not be read, and no amount of medication or bothering it will cause it to open.
In that case — if you can’t wait to let mother nature do her thing. You would need a cesarean section.
All medications have risks
Most of the ways we induce you are medication. All medications come with risks of adverse reactions etc.
Mitigating Induction Risks
In order to limit these risks you will be monitored more frequently (often continuously — meaning the baby needs to be on the monitor all the time). You’ll have more frequent vital signs and assessments by your providers.
How do they unusually induce people?
People are induced in one of three ways:
This includes things like:
- Foley bulb (literally stretches your cervix open)
- Stripping membranes (separates the bag of waters from the cervix and also sweeps up hormones in that area)
- Breaking your water (may cause contractions)
This is different than the next list because these are meant to start small, softer contractions that “soften your cervix”
These medications include:
- Cytotec (also known as misoprostil)
All of those are basically hormones that start contractions. Most often they are followed by….
Pitocin is the “gold standard” induction. It is a synthetic of what your body produces naturally to put you into labor. It is given IV.
It is often given to start if your cervix is three or more centimeters (although they could also try to just break your water at that point and see if you go into labor on your own then).
I have a whole article on Pitocin inductions.
What does a “favorable cervix mean?
It just means it’s not soft and ready for pitocin.
We also would like to see that your cervix has started to open before we induce but. However, if you have reasons you need to be induced, having a softened cervix won’t stop us from initiating an induction.
Why does my cervix nee to be “softened”?
When you a feel a cervix it can feel soft, or harder like rubber. As you can imagine. Cervixes that feel more ilke rubber (think like a car tire) vs soft like a wheel of brie cheese… one tends to open-up easier.
That being said, cervixes can be come soft quickly or take a while. It’s all an experiment.
How long will the induction take?
Goodness, wouldn’t that be nice to know. I actually have a whole article on how long an induction will take.
The two keys are:
- How long it takes to get you into “active labor” — meaning your cervix is actively opening — this can take a while sometimes.
- Once your cervix starts to open, the textbooks say it should open about 1 cm per hour.
- You also need to expect an average pushing time of 2 hours on your first baby.
That all being said, most babies and uteruses haven’t read the textbook — so every body is different.
That all being said, your provider likely has an idea of how long it will be when they schedule you (but keep in mind this is mostly an educated guess).
Why can’t I get my induction when I want it?
Inductions fall into two categories:
- Elective — this means there is no medical reason for the induction. Most providers won’t schedule this until you are at least 39 weeks, and often 40 weeks.
- Medically necessary — this means you have a condition that requires us to attempt to get the baby out earlier.
I have a whole post on 37 week inductions that talks a lot about those different reasons.
At the hospital we may schedule several inductions each day. Those who have a medical need often get the first beds available. Then, we move to those who have chosen an elective induction.
As a hospital we are always triaging who has the greatest “priority of care”. Hence, we choose who goes when most often.
Can I move during my induction?
It depends on how you are being induced. Also depends on if your hospital has monitors that can monitor you as you walk around (often called telemetry monitors).
ALSO, your baby has to be able to be monitored as you walk
Problems can include the baby’s position, or sometimes how legs rub on bellies (and the ultrasound machine can only pick that up vs the baby).
At my hospital we have a monitor called The Monica. It often doesn’t work though, and while we can troubleshoot a lot. Some bodies just don’t allow it to pick up (but some it works great).
If movement is a key for you, let your provider team know — so they can brainstorm with you how to make that happen.
Can I eat during my induction?
It depends on how you are being induced.
Often, when our patients are on pitocin our doctors won’t allow them to eat.
And by “allow them to eat” I meant that I can’t give you food.
The reality is your doctor can’t make choices like that for you. You can always choose to eat if you want.
Those who have cytotect or something to just soften the cervix can often eat.
However, if you have a reason for a likely cesarean, your doctor may limit your intake (and if that’s the case, they should let you know why).
Those are my 10 most common questions for an induction. I hope they were helpful for your upcoming birth! Please consider joining me for the WHOLE story:
- About the Author
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice.
She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.