Induction: What to Expect

The majority of labours begin naturally, but some women are given a helping hand in kick-starting labour. There are a few different methods of induction, and procedures vary between hospitals. Speak to your healthcare provider to find out more about induction procedures in your area.

Why might induction be necessary?
This will vary between hospitals, between healthcare providers, and even between patients, but some possible reasons for induction include:

  • being overdue – some hospitals like to induce from week 41, and others wait until week 42
  • diabetes – if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you are likely to be offered early induction to reduce the risk of labour complications
  • your waters have broken but labour hasn’t started – if labour hasn’t started 24 hours after your waters broke, your healthcare provider may want to talk about induction to prevent the risk of infection
  • pre-eclampsia and other medical conditions – if you have been diagnosed with a condition that endangers you or your baby, your healthcare provider may wish to induce labour early
  • if fetal growth problems are detected – if a growth scan shows that your baby has stopped growing, your healthcare provider may wish to opt for induction

How is labour induced?
Induction methods vary between hospitals, and may depend on your individual circumstances. Possible induction methods include:

  • prostaglandin – this hormone causes the cervix to soften during labour. A pessary or tablet of prostaglandin will be placed into your vagina. If after six hours your contractions have not started, you may be offered another pessary or tablet.
  • synthetic oxytocin  – if prostaglandin has not kick started labour, you will be offered synthetic oxytocin through an intravenous drip. Your waters will be broken before the drip is administered. Synthetic oxytocin causes more powerful contractions than natural labour, and your baby will be monitored throughout to check for signs of distress.

What does induced labour feel like?
Induced labour is said to be more painful than natural labour, this is because the contractions are more powerful. You will have access to pain relief during labour, so make sure you discuss your options with your healthcare provider in advance.

What if I don’t want to be induced?
There are times when induction is necessary to save a life. If, for example, you have developed pre-eclampsia, induction is the best option to protect both you and your baby. However, if you feel that you are being offered induction unnecessarily, speak to your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will want to inform you of the risks, but you are well within your rights to request more information and question the need for induction.

Is your labour being induced? Have you been through an induced labor and have tips to share?

Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.

Fiona PeacockInduction: What to Expect

Comments 12

  1. Fine

    I am scheduled for an induction tomorrow morning (40 +1) this is my first baby and I am nervous as hell as I haven’t been given a medical reason for this induction. But instead was just told because of my boarder range BMI. Which I don’t think is a good enough reason. Anyone else have this experience?

  2. Kirsty

    My first baby came naturally the day before I was to be induced. 5.5hr and I slept for 5hr of that. So with my second pregnancy I still didn’t know what labour was like. I went for a checkup 7 days after my due day and was told I had started dilating and I was in pre labour. They had a bed free so to come back and they would induce me that afternoon with the gell. When I returned I had dilated to much for the gell to work. They said if I hadn’t gone into labour by the morning they would break my waters. Still hadn’t gone into labour so they desided to break my waters. After checking me over they found my daughter wasn’t even in my pelvis . After a few conversations it was desided to break my waters, put me on an oxytocin drip and if bub wasn’t born in 4 hrs I was going for a c section. The contracts started about 10 min after they started the drip but stoped when I needed to go to the bathroom. They turned the drip up and they started again. They wernt very painful and didn’t need any pain relief. At 4pm (4hr after my waters were broken) I was checked and I was fully dilated and needed to push. I was given gas and oxygen as the pushing hurt after 1/2 of pushing my daughter was born. Official labour time was 2.5hrs. I am 39 weeks pregnant and have no issues with being induced again if needed. I don’t think it was to bad at all

  3. Leah

    I was induced with my first pregnancy at 40 weeks plus 10 days because an ultrasound showed a good, big size. Labour was induced with two gel insertions of prostaglandin gel, stronger than semen at 1pm. Then 8 pm that day. By 3AM on the 40 wk + 11 day , I was in established labour. It was good to know it had all started as the dialation of my cervix was zero on admission. The contractions were strong, but six minutes apart and only last about 90 seconds. I suppose strong but as it was my first pregnancy, there’s no comparison. I coped with gas and air through internal exams, breaking my waters at about 9 or 10AM.
    Then, being advised if I couldn’t dialate further, I’d got to 6-7cm, I should take a c-section. But both mine and baby heart rates were OK, it was just taking a while; I lost the plot crying and needing something to get me moving.
    The doctor said if I insisted on a normal vaginal birth that I would need an epidural to continue and they didn’t think I could get to the end without it. Also if baby heart rate dropped further through these future contractions that I could be c-sectioned more safely/quickly having an epidural in me already.
    So I agreed and at 2pm I was at 10 cm, painlessly! and was basically sleeping and breathing quietly. So I woke up and had to wait 1 more hour for decent of the head and baby to rest.
    Then pushing was difficult. Each 6 min gap of contractions I pushed 2 times and eventually after an hour and half had the head out. With episiotomy, then the body at 4:39pm.
    She was perfect, an APGAR score 9.5 because of blue fingers, but was 10 pound 6 ounce and we both were healthy. I don’t want anyone to fear their birth, because if you have CTG of baby, the hospital can monitor an induction and most importantly get your baby born. My total labour was 18 hours.
    I am pregnant again. I am overdue again, at 40+ 8 will do another induction. I am thrilled to start this whole thing again and have a healthy baby.

  4. Steph

    I was sceduled for an induction on Tuesday morning at 7am due to dangerously high blood pressure. I however was having contrations about every 15-20 minutes starting about 6am that day, so when i was admitted and set up they decided to wait and see where i was going naturally. My blood pressure kept going up so they put me on magnesuim which apparently slows contractions so once my Bp got under control they put me on pitocin. Once they started the pitocin, every time id have a contraction, my sons heart rate would stop. On top of that my blood pressure went so high the nurse wouldnt even leave my room. They broke my water and got me an early epidural, hoping that would calm the baby and get things moving (after almost 12 hrs i was only 3.5cm). After a few hours of that (i wasnt feeling any pain, but i did start throwing up) my doctor said itd be best to go with a c section so i agreed. Turns out my sons cord was tightly wrapped around his neck. If it wasnt for the pitocin causing him issues, i would have forever been in labor and not known about babys cord. It was a rough experience, but as a first time mom i have no other comparison. It wasnt as bad as i expected though.

  5. Marcela

    I agree with all the coments below. My first was 14 hour labor from first contraction to “out he is” and I had an epidural….worst experience of my life! After serious complications with ME (not the baby) I opted not to have one for baby #2 but I was induced. My daughter came in 2 hours (start of pitocin to “out she is”) and no epidural. It’s a quicker process but I agree that the induction contractions are MUCH harder than a natural labour – you’re giving your body a “push”. If it’s medically necessary for you to be induced, then do what’s best for your baby. But don’t opt for it just because it fits your schedule (like I did for baby #2). My doctor has me scheduled for an induction next Tuesday and since this Monday I have been trying EVERYTHING to go into labour on my own because I’m worried about the induction….but like someone mentioned, it’s all worth the pain to know your reward will be your baby.

  6. Grace

    My first baby was induced at 39+3 and it was the most painful experience i have ever gone through it made my contractions agonising to deal with but some how i managed to push through with little gas and air the bonus to induction i was only in labour for 1hour and 20 minutes ☺ i had the pessery tbh the insertation of the tablet hurt like hell!
    I am currently pregnant with second baby and am hoping for natural labour and a home birth

  7. Lara

    I am not trying to scare anyone – just being honest: pitocin is the worst thing I have ever experienced. I have had two natural births, no epidural/drugs, but my last one needed help. I started to swell closed instead of continue to dialate. Baby needed to come. Pitocin it was. It definitely did it’s job – no questioning that. However, it was literally the most gripping, horrific contractions that bit even your worst nightmares are made of. That being said, I also feel it’s important to do what’s necessary and right for baby – so if that means I will have to endure it again with this babe, so be it.

  8. Isabelle

    When I have birth to my first baby I was induced and it was just traumatic , to say the least. Everything throughout the whole labour was forced. Waters broken , forceps :( my second baby was a breeze , I allowed it all to come naturally and I was more comfortable and My baby was born relatively stress free. Not to say it wasn’t painful , I felt more in control is wht in am trying to say .

  9. Eve

    I think the main thing to remember is that we are all different! I have had 2 children my first I was induced with as there was no way he wanted to come out! Everything was fine and it all felt very controlled, my second came naturally, and they were very similar experiences! If you do have to be induced, don’t worry about it! The fact you get to meet your baby at the end is worth every contraction!!

  10. Jessica

    I have been induced twice. Both times I was overdue and pregnant with boys. This pregnancy is also a boy so I’m worried it will happen again. If anyone has to be induced, I would suggest an epidural. I waited until I couldn’t tell the difference between pitocin contractions and real contractions, I couldn’t even feel the epidural being placed!

  11. Polly

    I just had my 3rd baby on 3/17. I was 39 weeks, 2 days, and because I was high risk due to my age (35), I was attempting a VBAC, and strep B positive, my doc wanted to induce me so it would be more of a controlled environment. What a nightmare! Contractions were so hard, one minute apart and lasting at least that, but after going through that for 6 hours and having my water broken, I only dilated up to a 4 (was 3 cm upon admission). Then baby started fighting against the contractions and her heart rate would drop during each one – to under 100 bpm. They had to call a code and do the quickest c-section…Literally 10 min from the time they called the code to her first breath outside the womb. The pitocin was brutal on me and the baby. I would not recommend induction unless it is TRULY necessary. Much better to let nature take it’s own course to determine when baby should come!

  12. Katy

    My labor was induced due to a medical condition. It was my first pregnancy so I have nothing to compare it to but it was very painful! One contraction would come before the last one was finished.