Updated: May 17
As the excitement of the pregnancy winds down, and the excitement for meeting your new baby ramps up, labor looms larger with each passing day. When and how will I go into labor? As your due date approaches, your provider may begin to mention the "I" word- Induction. If this happens, you'll want to know how successful it is likely to be, and what you can do to help it along.
What is an induction?
An induction refers to the stimulation of the uterus before a labor spontaneously begins on its own. It can be done through the use of procedures, such as breaking your water bag, through the use of medications such as Pitocin (synthetic Oxytocin) or by natural methods.
Why an Induction?
Induction of labor are necessary in the cases of preeclampsia, a pregnancy condition that involves high blood pressure. It is commonly offered when you are over your due date. Your provider may want to induce because he or she believes your baby is "too large." And, although it is not approved by the FDA, elective induction may be offered for convenience.
But are you a good candidate for an induction, or would it be better to wait? Providers use a scoring system called the Bishop Score to determine how successful your induction is likely to be, and if spontaneous labor may be right around the corner.
The Bishop Score was developed in the 1960's as an assessment of the cervix. It scores the cervical position, consistency, effacement, dilation and fetal station. Based on a point system, each factor is given 0-3 points. A score of 8 or more points would mean you will most likely spontaneously (and soon!) start labor, and if you do need an induction, chances are good that it will be successful.
The Bishop score is not everything! It can be helpful if you absolutely have to have an induction, but women can move very quickly from a low score to birth quickly.
With a high Bishop score, some natural induction methods are sweeping the membranes, sex (yes!), nipple stimulation, castor oil, acupressure and essential oils like Clary Sage (always discuss with your provider).
If you hire a doula at any point in your pregnancy, she can help you find the best positions to encourage baby's position engagement and cervical ripening.
As a doula, I have helped clients optimize their labor readiness through the use of supplements, positions and using the Miles Circuit (a blog for another day!). These mamas were able to birth naturally, with and without Pitocin, and avoid Cesarean sections.
Ultimately though, baby will come when baby is ready and the story of his or her birth will unfold in its own beautiful way. Taking good care of yourself throughout your pregnancy and surrounding yourself with support will prepare you and baby for the best outcome.
Do you have an induction story? Have you heard of the Bishop score?
Visit me at https://www.facebook.com/graceoflifedoula
Monique is a birth and postpartum doula and childbirth educator with over 10 years of experience serving mothers and families in hospitals, birthing centers and home births. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado and is currently studying to be a Sleep Consultant.