As your due date approaches you may be envisioning the different ways your labour may go! Your water might break and then you start contracting or maybe you will have contractions first and then your water will break? You might start with contractions and your doctor may decide to break your water or maybe it breaks when the baby is delivering? Lots of avenues labour can go!!
The scenario may also play out this way…your water breaks and contractions don’t come!! If you test Group B streptococcus (GBS) negative (a vaginal/rectal swab done around 36 weeks looking for a bacteria 1 in 4 pregnant women will test positive for that needs antibiotic treatment) and your water breaks, your doctor may give you 12-24 hours to see if you can get contractions coming and into labour on your own! According to recent studies, if we can give moms 12 hours after their water breaks 45% of them will get into labour on their own. If we allow them up to 24 hours those odds increase to 77-95%!
If mom is GBS positive, their antibiotic treatment will be started immediately following their water breaking. They may be given a few hours and then will be induced.
There is a small percentage of women, that it doesn’t matter how long you give them, they just will not go into labour on their own. After the water has been broken for several hours, the risks for infection start to outweigh the benefits of waiting, so we talk induction!
Your water breaking without labour following is just one reason for an induction, but moms can be induced for a variety of reasons. And inductions can happen in a variety of ways!
Do any of these sound familiar?…Oxytocin, Syntocinon, Pitocin?? They are all the same thing and a very common method to induce labour. There are other methods of induction that some women need first to get ready for this step, but if your cervix is “favourable” then your body is ready to do this and we can skip right to starting with oxytocin!
Oxytocin is a hormone that is naturally produced by your body to help the uterus contract. It is given through an IV and is run through a pump to control exactly how much is being administered. Labour and delivery nurses have special training for oxytocin inductions and adjust the rate according to hospital protocols. The rate is started off very slowly and then turned up appropriately every 30 minutes until health care providers are happy with the frequency, duration, and intensity of contractions.
Since we are causing the uterus to contract, continuous external fetal monitoring is required. This is necessary to make sure your little one is tolerating the contractions we are causing! Don’t worry, continuous monitoring doesn’t necessarily mean your stuck on the monitors in bed. Yes, the monitors have to stay on, but the cords will reach a little way allowing for some movement around the room. Another option is sitting on a birthing ball near the monitor or raising the bed to lean against while still being monitored. If the oxytocin has been at a steady rate for an hour then monitors can come off for a short break. You will be allowed off the monitors for quick bathroom breaks, assuming of course that we are reassured by what we have been monitoring.
This is a question I hear all the time…Does an oxytocin induction hurt more than natural labour?
I don’t really have a good answer to this, it is hard to say and very subjective! Some moms who have had labour both ways, will often say the induction was worse. In my opinion, labour is painful no matter how you get there and pain associated with labour is completely normal and expected!!
Just remember mamas, you got this!! The more information you can get prenatally and educate yourself the more prepared you will feel when the time comes! If you are interested in a prenatal class please reach out to The Mama Coach in your area and we would be happy to help!!