Being induced is something that no-one wants but many of us pregnant first timers end up going overdue and needing to be induced. To be honest, no-one talked to me about being induced very much and the most information I got was from a leaflet I was given by my midwife. So when I was sent off to the hospital at 12 days overdue to start the process, I wasn’t very sure what was going to happen. This is what happened to me; you may experience things differently, I guess it all depends on your pregnancy and what they advise. This may give some idea though of what can happen when you are induced. I had absolutely no twinges, no pains, and both times a sweep had been tried, I was told that my cervix was still closed. So this baby really was going nowhere fast.
I had to wait until a certain day (I was 12 days overdue) and then call the ward, and they then told me when I should come in. I was told to call at 12, which I did, and then was told to call back at 3 as there was no beds. So even before you get there, you have to wait! I used this time to have the last supper as it were, at Pizza Express. You may wish to do something more useful such as packing stuff, but I recommend doing something nice. I was half hoping I’d go into labour halfway through my Pollo Ad Astra, but alas, it was not to be. Eventually the ward called me back, and told me to come in at 7pm that night.
It’s A Waiting Game
The first thing I am going to say, is that being induced is a long, boring, waiting game. I had some notion of going in to hospital and it all being done by the next day. Nope. Some people may be lucky and things may kick off a bit quicker for them, but for me, I was in hospital for three days before they put in the drip, which is the last resort.
To start with, I was taken to the antenatal ward. You don’t go to delivery suite until you are in established labour. This means that you are admitted to hospital, and therefore visitors and birth partners have to adhere to the visiting times rules. My partner Dan could stay with me at certain times of the day, and visitors could come at the normal visiting times. It meant Dan could stay with me most of the day, and visitors for a couple of hours in the afternoon and the evening.
The first thing they did for me was put in a pessary which was to soften my cervix to make it ripe. They put this in and then leave you for 24 hours! It’s basically a tampon-like thing they put up there, and a tape dangles down. Once put in you have to lie down for about half an hour or so and have a heart monitor thing done, but after that you can more or less do what you like. I’d already had 2 attempts at a sweep and it was clear my cervix was clamped shut, therefore I needed the pessary to sort this out. So then you have 24 hours of basically waiting around, with people taking your blood pressure and doing baby monitoring every so often.
After 24 hours, I had an examination, where I was happily told that I was about 2-3cm and could have my waters broken. This was about 7pm on the saturday evening. You have to go down to delivery suite to have your waters broken, and so you have to wait for there to be space, and a midwife, for you. Of course, as you are not in established labour, the priority are people who are, and therefore, this can be quite a wait. I ended up waiting 21 hours before they sent me down to have my waters broken. The midwife did a stretch and sweep after examining me, and I can tell you that it was the most excruciating thing I have ever had done. I started having some mild pains, but was told to rest and get some sleep, as best as I could. I really hoped this had kick started everything off, but alas by the morning, these pains had subsided. Therefore I was just waiting, yet again. I read a book, I watched TV a bit, I listened to the radio. I ate the dodgy hospital food. I waited for visitors to be allowed in. I packed up all my things, and then had to get most of it out again as I was waiting so long.
Breaking Your Waters
Once you get down to delivery suite, you are shown to your room, and you have to go through all the questions and introductions and everything again. Then, you have your waters broken, which for me, was a bit uncomfortable but no more so than a smear test or the stretch and sweep (after the one I’d had the day before, everything else was much less painful than that). You are then told to walk around, bounce, keep mobile, and try to get things going. I think you get about 2-3 hours to get things going before they go to the next step. I walked around the hospital a bit, had some fresh air, got a drink, and bounced on a ball a bit. I was having some mild pains but nothing that bad. I could still talk quite happily through it all. As I didn’t really know what I was supposed to be feeling, it was a bit irritating the midwives keep asking me “Anything happening yet?”. I just thought once I started screaming in agony, they’d probably know, and so would I. So again, more waiting around, more wondering, more thinking and not really knowing what I was doing.
So, for me, breaking my waters had no real effect. And so I was told I needed the drip. I was anxious about this as I had been told that the drip does make contractions more painful. But for me, there seemed no other option. So I had to wait for a midwife to be available to set the drip up. One midwife came and put the venflon in (which, I hadn’t had done before, and as a nurse, I had supported people to have put in. It was actually quite painful and uncomfortable and made using my left hand rather difficult, so I now appreciate a lot more why people don’t like them). I then had to wait for a midwife to start it off.
The Drip and the Start of Contractions
Basically, from what I can remember, the drip is put in, and every half an hour they up the dose. So you start with 2mls, then 4mls, then 8mls, up until a certain amount (I think 12? but don’t quote me on that). Then they stop upping it when you are having strong regular contractions. I think it takes a few hours to get to that point.
When they start the drip, they also hook you up to the monitor so that they can monitor the baby’s heartbeat. This means you have to sit on the bed and not move. initially they told me this would only be for a bit and then I could walk around for a bit, which I was desperate to do. (However, it turned out I had to be strapped to the monitor for the whole thing. It was not what I wanted, and I felt very trapped and stuck on the bed, which was very uncomfortable for me. I had to at times take myself off the monitor to get up and walk around, or go to the loo. That bed was agony.)
So, at about 7.30pm I was started off on the drip. How exciting! This is it, I thought. It was terrifying and exciting at the same time. Waiting to feel pain, and wanting to feel the pain, is a bizarre experience indeed. It was lovely to feel that my baby was going to be here within the next 24 hours, though. It wasn’t long, maybe an hour, before I started to feel the pains a bit stronger. For me, these felt like a ‘wave’ of pain, very much like period pain, it wasn’t a physical sensation of tightening at all, but a feeling, of pain building up and then ebbing away again, much like a wave lapping the sand on a beach. It wasn’t too bad initially, and I was chatting away to my sister and Dan, who were my birth partners. But the more they whacked it up, the more painful it became. Panic is a natural reaction and you have to calm yourself down. No-one had discussed pain relief with me, and I asked about gas and air, which I was given. I was examined and I was 4cm when they gave me the gas and air. However I didn’t get the hang of it very quickly, and by this time the pains were starting to come thick and fast, as they kept cranking it up. I tried to do without it, but the pains were then extremely close together and so I asked for pethidine. At almost the same time as I was given the pethidine, I worked out how to use the gas and air, and so I managed to relax my breathing, and basically had gas and air, and concentrated on my breathing, for a few hours. For me, the pethidine and gas and air was enough, but I had been on the verge of having an epidural if I hadn’t grasped how to use the gas and air. So now I was in established labour.
So that was the Induction process for me. The next bit is about the birth and I will blog about this soon.
So, what do I think you need to remember if you’re having an induction?
- Remember your notes! And your birth plan. It may not be part of your plan to be induced, and a water birth may be now out of the picture, but you can adapt it and it does give the midwives something to go on.
- Take books, magazines, MP3 Player to occupy you as it is a waiting game
- Get as much information as possible about the process and what the plan is for you – I wasn’t vocal enough and didn’t really understand what was happening at times.
- Be brave enough to tell people if there is anything you’re not happy with or you don’t want to happen
- Bring snacks in as hospital food is crap and if you’re waiting a long time, you will need something to keep your energy up
- Try and get visitors to spread themselves out across visiting times so that you have different people to see and other things to talk about
- Don’t bring in your baby things until you get to delivery suite or else you have way too much stuff with you
- Bring lots of PJs, slippers and tops, and don’t bother with proper clothes – someone can bring these in for you once you need them. Try short-sleeved as 1) its boiling on the wards and 2) easier for bloods, blood pressure, etc to be undertaken.
- Try and get people to take things back you find you don’t need or else you accumulate a load of stuff to bring to delivery suite which you don’t need – I had so much stuff it was ridiculous.
- Make sure you have a bottle of water and an energy drink with you when you are on delivery suite – I wasn’t allowed to eat in case I needed a c-section but was allowed water and energy drink (I had lucozade orange sports drink)
- Bring money in with you – for TV, snacks, papers etc. It’s awful if you haven’t got any change and you’re desperate for a drink other than tea or water.
- Let visitors know about visiting times and how many can visit at once etc before you go in – I could only have 2 visitors plus Dan so when more people came it was a bit of a hassle and got me stressed.
- Bring in or get someone to bring in once you know you’re going to delivery suite, a birthing ball if you have one or any other equipment you want – I had to wait ages for someone to find a birth ball for me, as they only had these on the birth suite, but I did feel it helped in the early stages.
- Ask about what happens after the birth – I didn’t have a clue what happened next. Turns out you go to postnatal ward!