What it feels like to have your labor induced

What it feels like to have your labor induced

Scheduling an induction can be both exhilarating and terrifying. On the other hand, it all happens so fast.

I’ve had inductions for three out of my four births, and the procedures have fallen all along the spectrum – from super quick to spanning almost an entire day. For memory's sake, I’m going to focus on the induction of my fourth baby. It took a lot longer than my husband and I expected. Shouldn’t babies basically walk out by the time you get to your fourth?

As with the other inductions, it blew my mind to think, "Holy crap. I’m going to walk into a hospital tomorrow morning without any signs of labor, and then walk out with a baby a couple days later."

I asked my OB if I could schedule an induction at my 39-week prenatal check-up. Logistically, induction made sense for us. I was totally over being pregnant, my husband had a long commute to work, and I had three older kids to take care of and worry about dropping off and picking up from school. My doctor put me on the schedule just shy of my 40-week mark. I requested that she sweep my membranes to hopefully help things along. (It didn't.)

My induction experience was mostly medical – meaning I went to the hospital and received an IV infusion of oxytocin, which is often referred to by the brand name Pitocin. Pitocin is a synthetic form of a hormone that a woman’s body naturally produces when she goes into labor spontaneously.

On the day of my induction, my husband and I woke up early. We ate breakfast, handed our three kids off to Grandma, and drove to the hospital with a suitcase.

Once I got in the room I would be laboring and delivering in, I changed into a hospital gown, and the first order of business was getting an IV started. (Honestly, this was my least favorite part of the whole process, because needles make me squeamish – and yet, weirdly, I’m completely fine with an epidural.)

The nurse had to try a couple of times to successfully poke my annoyingly tiny veins – which made me sweat profusely, get tunnel vision, and nearly pass out. But I hung in there. Pitocin was then started right away.

Next, my nurse got me hooked up to the monitors – blood pressure, pulse oximeter, baby’s heartbeat, contractions. My doctor came in a short while later to break my water with some sort of tool. It didn’t hurt, but there was a lot of pressure. I instantly felt a large gush of fluid soaking the bed pad beneath me. Fluid continued to leak for a while. (I was told I was at about 3 centimeters dilated at that point.)

The nurse slightly increased the Pitocin dosage every 45 minutes or so, also checking my cervix periodically. Ever so slowly, the contractions started. They weren’t regular or very strong for quite some time, though, so the nurse suggested I try bouncing on a peanut ball and keep changing positions to help move things along.

Mostly, my induction felt like an endless waiting game. I had fairly regular contractions for a little bit – only to feel them taper off. It was incredibly frustrating. My husband and I decided to pass the time by watching HGTV. I swear, we must have watched 30 episodes of Love It or List It while we were in that hospital room.

By early afternoon, my contractions were sort of regular but manageable. Still, my nurse suggested that getting an epidural might help my body relax and speed up the process a bit. I had planned on getting an epidural anyway, so I went for it. The anesthesiologist came, and before long, I was all numbed up. The waiting game continued.

At about 8 p.m., a new nurse discovered my Pitocin line had become disconnected and was leaking onto the floor. Which probably explained why my contractions were stalling out again. The nurse got everything connected again and I was good to go. Induction, round two, began.

I continued changing positions – with some help, since I was pretty numb at that point. (And still watching HGTV.) I tried, unsuccessfully, to take a nap since I had been at it all day. Eventually, I made it to 6 centimeters dilated – but stayed stalled there for what seemed like an eternity.

Ever so gradually, I started feeling more pressure with my contractions. Then I started actually feeling some pain. When I mentioned being able to feel contractions, my nurse told me I could push a button every 20 minutes to deliver an extra dose of medicine through the epidural. (Something I hadn’t been told earlier.) And so I did. Several times.

Transition happened at about midnight. I know this because I was in the worst pain I had ever felt during any of my labor and delivery experiences. I told my husband it felt like I had to poop – a sign I knew meant it was “go time” – and he quickly fetched the nurse. Somehow the tubing on my epidural had become disconnected, which is why I could now feel everything. Oh, and I was also 8 centimeters dilated. My OB was notified and came immediately.

The anesthesiologist showed up as tears of pain were streaming down my face. He explained why he couldn’t simply reconnect the tubing at this late stage, because I was fully dilated and feeling the urge to push. I had no time to prepare for a med-free delivery, but that’s exactly what I did.

My doctor hurried into the room just in time to glove up, and I was pushing without being coached to do so. It felt like the largest and most painful bowel movement of my life, but I pushed out my baby – with the help of an episiotomy – and I felt everything.

From start to finish, the whole shebang took about 19 hours. But there was a special reward at the end. And she was adorable.

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

Watch the video: What Happens During Labor Contractions? (December 2021).

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