One of the biggest myths we encounter regularly is the idea that Pitocin and horror stories go hand-in-hand. If you mention induction, someone is quick to jump in and tell you their awful experience! However, as doulas, we see a fair number of inductions, most often with Pitocin, and we are here to tell you: it doesn’t always have to be awful!
One of our former clients, Jessica, is on the blog today to share her positive induction story! Also, if you are facing an induction, here are some questions to ask to help you feel more prepared and confident.
First of all, tell me a little bit about you and your family, and what you do these days?
Thank you for inviting me to share our story. I live in Norwood with my husband, two kids, and a pup named Emerson. My husband, Evan and I just celebrated our ninth anniversary . We were able to steal a few hours away for an afternoon trip to the Cheesecake Factory. Our daughter, Avielle has all the spunk, charisma, and sweetness a four year old can contain. Ira turned one in May. We celebrated with a big Wild Rumpus inspired by Where The Wild Things Are.
I have deemed this the crazy frugal summer. We have been out doing so many fun things, and exploring new places in Cincinnati. It requires some searching but there are a ton of free/budget friendly family events around town. My two favorite discoveries this summer have been the Rosenthal Education Center in the Cincinnati Art Museum, and what we refer to as the magic garden (or Highfield Discovery Gardens). They have a gum ball machine full of “special” rocks! This is my four year old's dream come true!
Can you tell me what your first pregnancy, labor, and birth where like? What did you do to prepare, and how did things go?
So there is a crazy phenomenon that occurs when people hear that you are pregnant. Everyone wants to share their stories, or a family member's story, or the story they overheard at the grocery store. Some of these stories are funny, some somber, and many if not most, fall into the category of downright terrifying, especially if you are about to be a first time mom. So here I am giving into this phenomenon with MY story.
My journey into the world of natural, unmedicated birth began with a friend asking me if I was excited about labor. I believe my exact response was, “Is that something people do?” Then she shared her friend's story, about how much she loved labor and birth and anticipated the whole process. This caught me a bit off guard because I had only heard the terrifying stories, and seen the oh-so-wonderful depictions of labor and birth from television shows.
I sort of fell into the rabbit hole of natural birth stories, books, blogs, medical providers, breastfeeding classes, 12 weeks of Hypnobirthing sessions, doulas, that lead to baby wearing, cloth diapering, using essential oils, and on occasion making my own granola.
My Step One in this rabbit hole journey was watching The Business of Being Born (the natural birthing rite of passage). “What?! Is this for real, these women peacefully laboring and delivering babies?”
My older sister had a baby the year before, and I knew she wanted to avoid medications if possible, and did so. After the movie I called her and. She said if I wanted to have a birth like I saw in the movie to get a doula and find a good doctor. She also informed me that doula rhymes with hula because I could not pronounce it right! I was absorbing all information I could gather about natural birth.
Step Two: scour Google, blogs, and discussion boards for medical providers supportive of unmedicated birth. (I have to admit after watching The Business of Being Born I momentarily thought my only option may be to pack up and head to the Farm.) But through various searches and recommendations I found my way to The Bowen Center.
He pointed us in the direction of Hypnobirthing, and that class changed not only my mindset on birth, but was empowering in all aspects of my life. I learned so much about the power of my mind and my thoughts.I walked away believing fully that my body was created to birth my baby. I was prepared for any interventions that could come up, and really learned how my body worked. I highly recommend this class!
So we had the doctor, the birthing class, and we found a doula. Getting your husband on board for spending more money is a topic for another day, but after two different interviews he walked away saying, “Why wouldn't someone do this?”
I had a pretty smooth sailing pregnancy, and then just as I had laid out in my birth vision I spontaneously began labor. It began in the evening on Thursday. I labored at home as long as possible, because I was really convinced the moment I got to the hospital I was going to have to be fighting off all the medical personnel that were standing by to pass out their medicine, wheel chairs, and giant needles. I tried to keep myself busy, and to eat as a could, but I couldn't keep anything down. Friday (about 24hrs later) I decided, with just a tad prompting from my doula and husband that it was time to get to the hospital.
Even at the hospital I prolonged checking in. I denied every offer of a wheel chair as I made the walking trek to labor and delivery. Then amongst intense surges (the term for contractions in Hypnobirthing) I had that awesome moment where you have to go in a room alone, and then prove that you are in labor to the nurses. I was all about just listening to my body and not having any preconceived ideas of what should be happening, so I had opted out of cervical exams until now, and even then I did not want to know how far things were or weren’t progressing. Turned out: I was 100%effaced and 7 cm dilated!
Our doula was an incredible support for my husband and me. I didn't follow the hypnotherapy scripts, but my husband would breath with me and remind me of key phrases we talked about.
Then finally after about 30 hours I was completely exhausted. We are now at about 2:40 AM on Saturday. My water burst (it was very water balloon like), my baby crowned, and all it took was touching her head for me to get the energy needed to take one more deep breath. I welcomed my beautiful Avielle into the world. It was a sudden rush. I felt like I could take on the world, but wanted to be nowhere besides that hospital room taking in the beauty, the smell, the sounds of those moments.
Everything from the dim lights in the room to the delayed cord clamping went according to or within the realm of what was in my birth vision.
You experienced two losses, an ectopic pregnancy and a miscarriage, between your two living children. How did those experiences impact you and your husband?
When my daughter was about a year and a half, my husband and I were out on a date. We started throwing around the idea that perhaps we would start trying to get pregnant again sometime soon. What we didn't know was that I was already pregnant. We found out about 48 hours later during an emergency room visit due to me being in excruciating pain. I assumed my appendix had burst or I had a gallbladder gone haywire but the nurse came in and shared that my blood work showed I was pregnant.
The rest of that day and the weeks following were a whirlwind. I had emergency surgery because the pregnancy was ectopic and my right fallopian tube had burst. I had severe internal bleeding, and was closer than I’ll ever comprehend to death. I spent the next weeks riding these waves of big emotions, unable to drive, unable to lift my daughter, and having to have someone to care for my daughter while I watched. I struggled feeling like my body failed me and my baby, and then I felt like I was failing my precious daughter.
This was one of those times where I think in a marriage you can either push into each other or pull apart. During the hours at the hospital and the weeks of recovery we constantly chose to just lean in. We were hurting, we were grieving, but we intimately and intently worked through our loss one day at a time talking, sharing, sitting in silence.
Six months later I was feeling tired, nausea, and more tired. Turns out tired and nausea equals pregnant. We were so excited. I ran full throttle into this. We got our daughter a big sister t-shirt and told our families. Everyone was so excited. Having had the ectopic pregnancy the doctor wanted me to come in early just for precaution.
Then the red flags began to appear and my husband took note of each. I looked them blindly until I couldn't. Until the midnight doctor conversation that said it sounds like your body is preparing to purge the pregnancy. No one understood, at least it felt that way. It wasn’t purging just a pregnancy this was my baby. My 4 week in utero baby, and my body was rejecting yet another child.
The miscarriage really made me question things. How could my daughters birth be such a text book perfect experience and now in 6 months we had lost two babies. All the emotions and all the feelings returned in big waves. The loss of our second child did not require any medical assistance or 24/7 assistance for weeks. We definitely had people supporting us, but this time it felt like it was more on Evan and I to support each other this time and we did it the same as before.
How did you go into your next pregnancy? What were some of your goals for your labor and birth this time?
To say the loss of two babies impacted my thoughts about pregnancy would be an understatement. It really affected my husband and I in everyday we realized how fragile life can be. We had to fight back anxieties about something happening to our daughter or one of us. We held on to the fact that we desired a big family and began to think that perhaps that desire would have be met through other means. One thing that it did was make it impossible for me to say that I was ready to start trying to have a baby. The idea of saying yes let’s try left this big space for excitement and disappointment. A disappointment that I knew I could not handle.
Everything was so different when I had a positive pregnancy test again 5-6 months later. The excitement built in my heart, but I approached with hesitancy. Every cramp that I felt the thoughts went to the ectopic pregnancy. Everyday I got slightly anxious when I would go to the bathroom. I had an early appointments due to the two losses thankfully because once I had a doctor confirm I was pregnant and numbers looked good I felt a slight weight lift.
I also had to acknowledge that the fears were robbing me of joy. Yes, I had grieved and would still on days feel the loss so real, but even if this baby didn't make it another day I wanted to take joy in my pregnancy, and to feel connected. I wanted to delight in this child As much as I could. It was really the appointment where I got to hear his heartbeat for the first time that I felt like I could exhale.
Once I moved away from those fears (as much as one can after loss) I sort of just anticipated my pregnancy, labor and birthing experience to be that text book ideal experience I had with my first child. I basically took my first birth vision changed a few things and was ready to go. Sure I had the section on in the event of an induction or c-section, but I didn't really expect that to happen. I set out thinking I would just experience basically the same thing over again: a natural unmedicated birth.
If I remember right, you were around 40 weeks when you did a biophysical profile, and your son didn’t do poorly, but he also didn’t pass with flying colors, and you were offered an induction at that point. Tell me about that appointment, and what your thoughts were. How did you and your husband walk through the decision making process, and what did you finally end up deciding?
Yes, so apparently my due date had been adjusted some and when I went in for my 40 week I believe they said I was 40 weeks 3 days. I thought I am just going in for this appointment no big deal.We went in for the ultrasound, and as much as the tech tried Ira would not move. They set me up like royalty in a tiny room with some twizzlers, pretzels, and juice while they did monitoring. Never had I felt more pregnant than having a band around my belly and eating all the snacks.
A call was put out to the doctor Who basically laid out the facts ,and gave me the option to be induced that day, or come back in 24 hours and test again. If I chose to wait I was going to have to do intentional kick counts every few hours. I felt devastated. I ultimately had to break it down to what are my goals and what is best for our baby.
Evan wanted me to feel like I was in control and based on what the doctor was saying we both felt that agreeing to the induction was what we should do. I knew I would go home and just worry about Ira until I returned for my next appointment. I was honestly an emotional mess because I suddenly felt like things were spiraling out of my control. I had moments of feeling like this was the right choice, and moments where I definitely did not think it was right. I changed my mind twice before confirming the appointment at 3 pm and being told to be at the hospital at 6 pm.
What was it like checking into the hospital for the induction? Were you thinking or feeling anything in particular?
I had a mix of feelings. Anticipation thinking that being induced I would be getting to see my baby soon, anxiousness about what if this leads down the slippery slope of interventions. What if I am making the wrong choice? Worried that this would affect our nursing relationship. I remember feeling nervous. I think I really kind of felt a bit defeated as I checked in. I had just expected everything to go one way, and it wasn’t.
Once I got checked in and to my room that was ready for me I started to feel at ease. I had a beautiful daughter sitting there coloring me a Mickey picture while I checked in so I could see it and be happy” while we waited for “brother to come out”. I had an amazing support system. I had two babies that I would have given anything to be induced to hold ,and I had as far as I knew a healthy baby boy that I would soon get to meet. So I jumped into go mode
How long did it take for the Pitocin to kick in? How would you compare your Pitocin contractions to the contractions during your first baby’s birth?
They thought since my first labor and birth were so easy that once they gave me Cervadil my body would just be ready to go. The problem was I was 0% effaced and basically not dilated. The next morning there was still no progress. The offered to start Pitocin , but I was wanting to avoid it at all costs, so the nurse brought me the big hospital grade breast pump and I alternated walking and pumping for the next several hours.
I had occasional contractions, but nothing consistent. Around noon the options were laid before me. I could start pitocin, let them break my water, or keep waiting. I had already just been hanging out at the hospital for about 16 hours. Then it hit me that there was a reason this whole thing was suggested in the first place.
Ira was not moving like he should have been. There was obviously no signs of stress or the doctor would have been pushing for emergency interventions. With some nervousness I accepted the pitocin. We talked through and we made the plan to start it off slow and kick it up if needed or off once my body picked up on its own Ira was getting his eviction notice.
My husband and I had been texting and talking with Kate the whole time as she supported us through each step of the way. I was up talking, moving around, and trying to rest but we decided that she would come in around 7pm.
Even while on pitocin I was able to go walk the halls and the room. I just had to be on the monitor once an hour. Right around seven things were starting to feel a little different. I was having to slow down with the contractions. This happened to be the same time that my in laws brought my daughter to visit, and the entire family ended up in the room, so Kate and I went for a walk down the hallway. On our way back to the room my daughter hugged me, and then It was like everything changed.
Contractions were now feeling pretty constant, and I would say that is the biggest difference I can recall from my two labors. Going naturally you get to kind of ride the waves. They slowly get more intense and they ebb and flow. On Pitocin you are kind of dropped down in and there is not much of a break. I remember a nurse coming in and saying that the contractions were not staying close enough, and for a second I felt so defeated because I had no idea how they could be any closer to each other. I recalled what I knew and the power of thought and told myself that I could do this and listened as Kate and Evan spoke to me.
What did you do to work through labor this time around? What really helped you stay focused?
It was weird having so much down time at the hospital. And to go from nothing is happening to full throttle labor so fast. I tried to move around instead of being stationary. I found that being on my feet let me really feel grounded, and that I could bear down into the floor. The contractions were so close to each other that sometimes it felt difficult to really move positions. Especially as things progressed.
The rebozo offered a lot of relief. I really leaned into Evan too. The calming words Kate and my husband spoke. Hearing breathing patterns to follow when I would start to loose my focus. Then the feeling that I was getting so close to holding our baby in my arms.
I was about to do some water therapy but they wanted to check me before I got in the water. Before the nurse could get in the room I suddenly felt like it was time to push.
How did the birth itself go, and how did you feel afterward?
The birth was fast. I remember leaning back into the bed and the resident doctor and nurses came in. Everyone was standing there looking down at me as they waited for Dr. Bowen to get there. The doctor looked over and said, “Well, we could probably turn off the Pitocin now!” I thought to myself: “I have done it! It was intense, but I survived Pitocin!! “
Dr. Bowen then came in. He was not in his scrubs yet. Seeing him casually walk in as though there was no rush was so calming. He talked me through breathing down the baby and told me to stop pushing just breath with the next surge. I remember looking at my husband, and tears feeling my eyes as I could suddenly feel every burn every movement everything I did was truly one step closer to our baby being in our arms.
At 10:48 Ira Matthew entered the world. He was perfectly healthy. He was immediately placed on my chest. He let out a sweet sneeze ,just like his sister. I looked into his eyes and felt overwhelmed with emotions. For the first time since our first loss I held a baby. I took in everything in that moment. Being induced did not seem to affect the begining of our breastfeeding journey. He did the breast crawl and latched on without any trouble.
Holding Ira felt like I had reached a rest stop in a journey. The past 36 hours or so had been a whirlwind. To finally know that my baby was totally healthy, to hold him in my arms was such a relief and so calming. I felt like I had overcome so many fears about pitocin and being induced. Ultimately my goal was a healthy baby boy in all his newborn sweetness wrapped up in my arms, and an induction is what got him there. I realized that all interventions do not need to have such a negative connotation.
If you were talking to a mom who is facing an induction, what would you say to her? What advice would you give her?
The first thing I think is important is to let her acknowledge and feel whatever feelings and emotions are welling inside. The next step is critical. We have to reign those back in, and breathe in order to be able to think through what are your goals, why is the doctor suggesting an induction, and ask what alternatives there are.
I think before you get to the point of having to face this decision you need to be sure that you have the right support team. Does your provider support the birth you envision, will the people in the room with you help to push you toward your desires? Write a birth plan, and talk with your support team about it.
When you are empowered with this knowledge you go from being told what could be happening to you making the choice. Being induced does change the birthing experience, but this is still you and your baby’s story. Sometimes to get there we have to take a different path than we expect.