The room is scented with uplifting citrus, music played softly and coloured battery powered candles flickered around a beautiful birth vision board. Calmly and quietly the mother gently nudged her baby girl into the birth pool and into the world, so ready to meet her at last. As she lifted her up she cried to her baby “Oh wow, I love you, you are so beautiful!” So proud and so happy.
This beautiful birth started like 1 in 5 of births in the UK, it was an induced labour, something this mother had worried so much about and it was magical. We did not see the ‘cascade of intervention’ she had feared. She did not have her waters broken or receive a hormone drip. She was not restricted to a bed or continuously monitored or even unnecessarily disturbed. She did not require an assisted delivery and in fact most of her birth plan remained in place and she birthed in the pool just as she had envisioned. Her induction had not been the death of her empowered and positive birth experience, quite the opposite.
Now of course this will not be the case for everyone and it’s no secret that induced labours are statistically more likely to result in an assisted delivery or in interventions, induced labours are also usually more intense than a spontaneous labour. The suggestion/offer of induction of labour can feel scary, especially with the spread of misinformation in the media and the simple fact that medical language doesn’t sound very friendly especially emotions are already quite tender! There is soooooooo much information out there and it can be hard for mothers to navigate and to make informed and empowered choices, especially if those around you have been filling your head with negative induction stories and ‘facts’. Another barrier to making an informed choice can be if you feel that your care provider isn’t very supportive, something that can be hard to feel from a 10 minute appointment but regardless, everyone deserves to have good, up to date information about ALL of their birth options so that they make informed decisions that FEEL right for them. Distance yourself from negative people who have nothing helpful or supportive to say (they will get over it) and if your care provider is pressuring you or just generally not being very helpful request a change (again they will get over it). I have included some helpful links on this topic, I recommend Sara Wickham on the subject, she has even written a very helpful book on induction. The most important thing to remember is that even with all the information and statistics is that it’s YOUR birth YOUR body and YOUR experience and you are ultimately in charge of it. Always ask yourself in any birth choice, what are the benefits, what are the risks, what if I do nothing? and lastly what does my intuition say/how do I feel?
As well as seeking out information seeking out positive induction stories from real mothers can be super helpful. Instagram, birth without fear, tell me a good birth story and positive birth are all wonderful resources for real life positive birth stories. Read them and take what you need from these inspiring women.
So what helped the mother I mentioned above feel safe entering into her induction date, what did she put into place? Firstly she had already ensured that she had a wonderful and positive support system in the form of me, her doula and her husband. She got all of her fears and concerns out surrounding induction for post term pregnancies (this was her reason for being offered an induction) and we looked at evidence based information around these fears and concerns, the benefits, risks and alternatives. What was very important was that she made plans to manage them if they came up. For instance making peace with the need for pain relief, how we could use a peanut ball, rebozo scarf and massage techniques if mobility was restricted due to monitoring or a non mobile epidural, the ease in which she could organise childcare for her son on the day. One revelation was that so many of her comfort measures would remain in place and another was that she would be walking along the Brighton sea front with her husband after her pessary and not restricted to a bed. Conversations with her care providers provided a lot of relief as most of the people she spoke with where very helpful and supportive. She declined the first two dates she was offered, something she was not aware was an option until she asked. In the week leading up to her decision she enjoyed a couple of acupuncture appointments and a blissful reflexology session before deciding, “ok, lets give it a go, I’m ready, I feel ready.”
After a couple of pessaries, a beach side lunch, walk and some magazines later labour was well under way and I was at her side! This is something that a lot of women don’t picture. No hormone drip, no continuous monitoring! It wasn’t an easy journey for this mother, emotionally and physically it was hard, occasionally quite boring! Another thing you don’t picture when thinking about inductions is…that it’s kind of boring sometimes!
One example of this is from a client I supported who was induced with pre eclampsia. She made the choice after finding peace with the fact that she was making this decision with love for her baby and trusting that it was the safest and most informed choice for them. Her acupuncturist also attended her at the hospital if I remember correctly and she used her hypno birthing techniques. It took quite a while for things to get going, a good while, which she was well prepared for! I would visit her in between her partners visits and we would talk, eat, listen to music and I would massage her legs and feet to ease the oedema she was experiencing. At one point when we thought further intervention may be considered we researched it all in depth from her room and talked it over with her partner, all with no pressure from her midwives. Birth is never easy and these women’s births are just a couple of several well supported and informed inductions I have had the pleasure of attending as a doula. Every mother deserves to be supported, respected, held and informed throughout her birth experience and induction does not have to mean the end of this, there is no need to enter an induction from a place of fear, you deserve to meet your baby in the most loving way possible.