During my first pregnancy I developed preeclampsia right after my due date which led to an induction. Luckily for my second birth I didn’t get preeclampsia and was able to go into labor on my own. Both of my labors were so different that I want to share with you my experience. I do want to add that every person is different and so is every labor so this means your experience might be very different than mine.
Before I had my first child I made the decision that I wouldn’t get an epidural. I had researched about it and for me the cons outweigh the pros. I also told myself that women have been doing this for centuries and the book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth as well as the movie The Business of Being Born gave me all the strength and inspiration I needed to feel that I could do it. I was able to have both births without an epidural and it’s probably why I felt the births were so different, especially pain wise.
I was sure I was going to go into labor naturally with my first so imagine my shock when I went to a prenatal appointment at 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant and was sent straight to the hospital for an induction due to my preeclampsia. I was so scared I asked if I could take a walk and have lunch first…it took me about 4 hours to be calm enough to be induced.
We went to the hospital and after filing out forms and waiting for a bit I was hooked to an IV and given pitocin. I was already 4cm dilated before my induction.
At first I didn’t think it was so bad and I progressed from 4cm to 6cm easily. Then when I was 6cm the doctor broke my water (amniotic sac) and a little after that the contractions started picking up in pain and intensity.
My entire labor lasted 5 hours but for about 3 hours (which I was in transition – dilating from 7cm to 10cm) I was in such intense pain I thought I was going to die. I knew I wasn’t going to die literally but it was just so so so painful.
It’s hard to describe in words but I felt like my body was splitting right down the middle. The contractions not only were intense but long and I felt like I didn’t have any break in between them, they just kept coming one after the other.
The pitocin also seemed to have affected my baby because her heart rate started dropping during the contractions so I was being closely monitored. I remember thinking I could do this but I also wondered how much longer of this pain I had to endure because I wouldn’t be able to put up with this for many hours.
I cursed and yelled at times and felt that I needed to be 100% concentrated in what was going on so I could deal with the pain.
Eventually the time came to push and after pushing for about 30 minutes my baby was born. I don’t know if it was because of the intensity of the pitocin contractions or because they broke my water but she was all bruised – her face had the most amount of bruises.
She also tore me really bad when she was coming out. It took the doctor almost an hour to stitch me up.
Overall I was happy I was able to have her without an epidural but it was a super intense birth experience (you can read my birth story here).
When I went into labor with my second I was waiting to feel this horrible pain again. My plan was that once I started feeling that horrible pain I would head on to the hospital because I would be about 2-3 hours away from birth.
However, this time around I never felt those intense contractions. The contractions seemed pretty mild and I could speak through them. Even when I finally felt them pick up and get more painful they weren’t nearly as painful as what I had experienced with my first and I felt that in between each contraction I actually got a break where I could breathe, talk and even joke around.
I didn’t yell or curse this time around. I felt maybe 1/4 of the pain I had felt with my induced birth. I think it was such a big difference because this time my body went into labor when it was ready, when baby was ready.
My water ended up breaking as I was pushing out my baby. This baby was born after 10 minutes of pushing, her heart rate never dropped, she didn’t have a single bruise and although she was bigger than my first I didn’t tear at all, not even a little bit. Honestly, it was a perfect birth for me – a birth I didn’t think was possible to have.
I understand the need of an induction when there’s a medical reason for it but so many women get induced just because they reached their due date or because they’re feeling miserable.
If you ask me, getting an induction for these reasons is not worth it because labor is so much more intense and your body is not ready, so things could go wrong.
There’s plenty of information on a pitocin induced labor, you can start by reading this and this and Google some more if you’re interested. Remember, I’m saying an induction might not be necessary just because you’re past your due date but if there’s a concern with you or your baby or some other medical reason, then an induction is probably the best way to go and this is why is so important to have a doctor you can trust and that supports natural birth.
I kept reminding myself when I was feeling miserably big at the end of pregnancy that even though this baby might be late she will come. No one is pregnant forever and being 2 weeks past your due date is considered normal, actually the average pregnancy of a first time mom is 41 weeks and 1 day.
You might need extra monitoring at the end but waiting to go into labor on your own is so worth it, especially if you want to avoid getting an epidural. So if your doctor insists on an induction I would ask why, if it’s not medically necessary I would ask to let your body go into labor on its own and suggest to get extra monitoring to put your doctor and yourself at ease.
I would also avoid getting your water broken because that can also make the contractions feel more painful. I know some doctors do it when labor has stalled and getting your water broken is better than getting pitocin so you have to weigh your options when the time comes. The best you can do is have a doctor you trust and do your research during pregnancy.
Labor can be beautiful and magical experience, one that all women deserve to have. For me, letting my body go into labor on its own was amazing and not so painful as getting induced but definitively the best part of both of my labors was that at the end I was holding my baby.
Did you get induced or go into labor on your own? How was your experience?