What it Feels Like to Be Induced, According to Moms Who Have Been Through it

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I discovered that nearly a quarter of all births involve an induction. I spent a lot of time worrying about how I would handle it if my labor didn’t go according to my birth plan. I knew that the chances of induction increase the longer you go past your due date, since amniotic fluids start to decrease and the placenta is at greater risk for functioning poorly, and I remember feeling relieved when my labor started naturally at 38 weeks. But, as I’ve heard more and more of my friends share their birth stories, many of which include an induction, I’ve come to realize that they don’t necessarily mean that you will have a bad birthing experience — or a C-section. Here, eight women share their experiences, good and bad, so you can be more prepared as you approach (or sail past) your due date.

“I was terrified of being induced. I’ve trained as a doula and have attended many births, and I was always under the impression that inductions lead to interventions. But, after my water broke at 40 weeks and my labor failed to progress, I had to be induced. I was on pitocin for 24 hours but nothing happened. The next day, the midwife took me off of the pitocin to give my body a rest, and then she gave me half a pill of misoprostol. Within a half hour, I was feeling different. I progressed rapidly. At 8 cm, I got into the birthing tub. I started pushing around 10 p.m. and she was born just after midnight in the tub. I didn’t need any other interventions and no pain meds, and I had my daughter exactly the way I wanted her.” —Tiffany Russo, Springfield, MA

“When I went into labor spontaneously with my second child, the contractions were intense, but in a manageable way. They started slowly, worked their way to a peak, and then came back down to almost nothing. This was very different from my first birth when I was given cervidil and pitocin to start labor at 42 weeks. During those contractions, it was like trying to survive and then recover/brace myself for the next one. They came often, were strong, and lasted for long durations.” —Martha Slocombe, New Lebanon, NY

“For my third baby, I was about 50 percent effaced and two to three centimeters dilated for a week. I was having heavy contracts and three days before my due date, I couldn’t handle the pain any longer. I walked into the hospital and told them I was ready.They did another induction with pitocin, just like my first two labors. It was actually a pleasure: I had my favorite nurse again and she had me walking and squatting while contracting. I got an epidural even though it hadn’t worked very well with my first two deliveries and it was perfect: I felt the urge to push and it only took one push and the head was out. And then just a mini push for the rest of her. She was 9 pounds, 15 ounces and I felt amazing!” —Jessica Bruno Latilla, Freehold, NJ

“At 11 days past my due date, I was admitted to the hospital for an induction. I was given a pitocin drip, and cervidil cream to kick-start my contractions. I labored overnight with an epidural and while the contractions felt like the worst period cramps ever, I was able to get some sleep. Fast forward to the next morning: C-section. I wish I had waited a few more days to let things happen on their own since that was not the birth story I imagined. I blamed the induction for necessitating the C-section—but who knows what would have happened if I waited (and waited) for my daughter to make her appearance on her own?” —Brooke Glassberg, Edison, NJ

“My blood pressure skyrocketed, so I was given cervadil and pitocin at 36 weeks. After about 12 hours, my water broke. I felt one contraction, and had an epidural. About 90 minutes after I got the epidural my son was born! I really didn’t feel anything except for a little pressure. I got the most beautiful little boy out of it and wouldn’t change anything that happened.” —Morgan Harris, Boynton Beach, FL 

“With my second baby, I was diagnosed with choleostasis of pregnancy, which endangers the baby as pregnancy goes on. So at about 37 weeks, I had a drug to prep the cervix and then pitocin—and because the contractions under the pitocin were so strong, I had an epidural. From that point on, I had to be monitored constantly. They did hook up wireless monitors, so in theory I could move around a little in my bed, but since I was getting an IV drip of the pitocin and saline, it was annoying and tedious to do so. It also took almost 28 hours from the beginning of my labor to giving birth, which was almost twice as long as my first birth, when labor started spontaneously.—Erin Perry, West Des Moines, IA

“I waited to get an epidural until I couldn’t take the pain anymore with all three of my induced labors. I had always feared that an epidural would slow down the labor process but actually it was the exact opposite: It helped me to relax, which helped my labor progress more quickly. Having a supportive partner and an amazing doctor and nurses made my inductions great experiences—though having fairly quick labor and deliveries didn’t hurt either. And being the control freak that I am, knowing when our babies were going to be arrive helped with pre-baby prep!” —Kate Wilson, Johnstown, PA

“I went in for my induction at 2 p.m. on a Monday and the nurse, knowing I had wanted an unmedicated delivery, asked the doctor if it would be okay to try cervadil before pitocin. I’m forever grateful to her. I had painless contractions until 10 p.m. when they became noticeable…at 4 a.m., my water broke and the contractions were 45 seconds apart. Even though I was only 3cm dilated, I went for the epidural. It was light and it took the edge off, but I still felt everything and had control of my legs. I only pushed for 30 minutes. Even though I started out wanting a water/unmedicated/soothing birth, not having a cesarean was pretty much all I cared about once I got to the hospital — and I think trying to control all of those parameters actually made me more stressed out during my pregnancy. In the end, I got my sweet little daughter. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.” Junia DeFaria, Phoenix, AZ 

Photo: Getty