Starting and Inducing Labor

Parent Q&A

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  • Acupuncture for inducing labor?

    (11 replies)

    Hello Fellow Parents!

    I am a soon to be mother and based on my age and basic circumstances, my OB-GYN insists on induction. The more research I do on this subject, the more concerning induction sounds, but I understand the argument and am seeking a more natural/gentle way to start the birthing process. I am seeking a local acupuncturist that has experience in this sort of thing. I live in the Richmond area, and my birthing center is in Berkeley, so someone around there would be best. 

    Any recommendations?

    I love Naya for all things pregnancy. I've been seeing her for years. She's in Oakland near Lake Merritt but couldn't recommend her more.

    I highly recommend Rachel Alkire at Grow family Acupuncture on solano in Albany. She is delightful and  supportive. She really helped me prepare for the birth of my child.

    Hey CJ - in a similar boat!  Aimee Ruiz on Grand Avenue is great and specializes in fertility and pregnancy.  Highly recommend her.

    Good luck and trust your gut.



    I see a really good acupuncturist in Albany. Her name is Laura Aguiar 510 684 4300. I've seen her for all 3 of my pregnancies. I'm currently 36wks pregnant and 42 years old. I birthed my first two babies at Pacifica Maternity in Berkeley. This acupuncturist came recommend by them. Let me know if you have any questions. I also do doula work (when not pregnant) so clearly I like to talk all things childbirth & babies. And I'm an absolute advocate for natural child birth. Wishing you the best of luck on your journey! 

    I had a similar experience (age and not wanting to induce). Great acupuncturists for this are at Tao to Wellness on Hearst St at 4th St. I also ended up consuming castor oil per my doula’s recommendation which definitely worked. Happy to talk more about my experience if helpful. 


    I worked with Ann Weiss to help induce, have worked with her previously for other things, including fertility. Highly recommend her, located in Berkeley.

    here is her number: (510) 318-0423

    best wishes to you!

    Mitchell family accupuncture- Nina or Allison :)

    all the best! I had a similar situation. 

    Dr. Heidi Kao at Integrative Wellness Center in Temescal is a wonderful, wonderful practitioner. I highly recommend her for all things related to women's health.

    I hope you’re able to find someone!

    If it helps with your concerns, I went into labor naturally with my first and was just induced with my second baby. Personally I preferred induction. In my experience it was nice to be in the hospital, have things scheduled, and it was painful but manageable. 

    Greetings and congratulations on your pregnancy. I noticed that you mentioned birthing center so I am curious if there are any midwives or Doula‘s there to help guide you along this process. I would suggest using multiple modalities.  Acupuncture. Acupressure. Moxibustion. Nipple stimulation. Sexual stimulation.  At what week are they suggesting you get induced if you don’t mind me asking. 

     I offer these suggestions as a prenatal yoga teacher and mama who birthed three children out of the hospital:)

    blessings to you, your pregnancy, birth, and parenting journey.


    I have been going to a very good acupuncturist in San Francisco (about a 20 min. drive from Richmond), Dr. Jenifer Ashby, who has extensive experience with all kinds of women's issues (pregnancy/fertility, "that time of the month", menopause), and many more.  She practices Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This is one of my favorite acupuncturists; highly recommend her!  Having said all that, I need to admit that the issue I've been going to Dr. Ashby is NOT pregnancy related   Here is the Yelp link:

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Labor Induction at the Hospital Do-It-Yourself Induction

Drug-free birth vs. pitocin-induced birth

Nov 2008

though i'm not prego yet with our hopeful second child, i wanted to get some info on natural birth. my background: i am all for medical advancements to make things easier, so if i want less pain during my labor, i'm all for it. (hey, people take meds for headaches, colds, etc...) since i was almost 10 months prego, i was practically forced to give birth. with pitocin. with a horrible nurse who wouldn't give me any epidural because i didn't dilate at all. it was sooooo awful, and they finally gave me the epidural after i was screaming and moaning for at least an hour, if not more. i think i was contracting every other minute or every two minutes with pitocin without pain meds. btw, i began to dilate quickly once i was able to relax after the epidural. i'm grateful that the baby was healthy, but the experience was horrifying.

so here's the question: how do labor pains from pitocin and pitocin-free births compare? are natural labor pains more tolerable? i'm not against epidurals, but i feel like the doctors won't let labor progress naturally because they just think about getting the baby out quickly. unless it's medically necessary, i'm totally against using pitocin, and i feel like if i'm adamant about a drug-free birth, the hospital will be more respectful about not forcing pitocin on me.

thanks in advance. pain-phobic, pitocin-labor-phobe

My first birth was 19 hours from the time we were admitted into L to time of birth. After 12 hours of labor and when my prenatal doc came on duty (Santa Clara Kaiser), I finally agreed to the pitocin. The pitocin made my contractions more frequent, but I didn't feel like they got stronger. Though my doctor did comment that I had too big of a smile on my face for someone getting pitocin. Maybe the labor pain was more, but since I had wanted a natural birth without pain meds, I think mentally I was prepared.

My second birth was just 3 weeks ago. This time I went into labor at work at 8am. By the time my husband came to my work to get me and drive down to Santa Clara, I was already 9cm dilated. We were admitted at 11:30 am and my daughter was born at 1:11pm. So a much shorter labor. And no pitocin needed this time. No IVs nor pain meds. So given it's your 2nd child, you may not be needing the pitocin.

As for labor pain, both times feel similar, there is a 3 year gap so can't say my memory is all there. But the delivery pain felt stronger this time, I felt everything was ripping down there, yet surprisingly I got the tiniest tear this time around.

Best wishes to you. Crystal

I've had a pitocin-induced birth (without epidural) and a natural (no pitocin) labor. The ''natural'' one was SOOOOO much better. However, let me add that it was my second birth and I hear that the second births are usually easier anyway. In my experience, being on the pitocin drip really limited my mobility. They let me walk around for awhile, but then one thing let to another, and eventually I was flat on my back under dr's orders. Horrible. Without the pitocin, I walked the hospital and fully credit it for speeding up the labor and decreasing the intensity of the pain. When I say I walked...I mean, I walked and walked and walked for hours. Sometimes I jogged or did hula-hoop moves during contractions. But! Better than being stuck in a hospital room! Kept me distracted and busy even if I was stuck just on one hospital floor. The final stage of dilation was hellacious for both births but went much faster with the ''natural'' birth. It was almost a surprise to me to feel that last bit of pain because my second birth hadn't really given me any pain up until the very end. At any rate - I felt awesome after my second birth. I felt totally wrecked and exhausted after my first. Pitocin Sucks

Hi, my first daughter was a natural childbirth (water broke on its own, labor progressed fine, no drugs until after she was born and they were sewing me up.) Second daughter was also natural childbirth, but they did break my water at 41w, then pitocin to regulate the contractions, so I can compare the two experiences without pain meds (from what I recall--you know, we all block out the pain a bit afterward). Basically, I felt contractions in both case were the same--the worst pain I've felt in my life, but discrete, so that I could breathe through the contraction and take a short break in between. I think the difference with pitocin is that I went from 5cm to fully dilated in just a few hours, as opposed to 10h with no pitocin. So, the rate that contractions come at you is faster. This will probably be the case with your second baby anyways. So, I don't believe when people say pitocin contractions are more painful. They're not more painful--you just get less of a break. Let's face it--ALL contractions hurt, but are worth it in the end! You should do what YOU want and keep looking for a doctor/midwife until you find one that supports what YOU want! been there, done that both ways

Hi, I can't answer the comparison of pain question you raise re: pitocin. But I can say that in the ''tool kit'' of natural childbirth methods their are natural drug free ways to encourage dilation that may help birthing moms avoid pitocin and to provide comfort measures that may help a mom inclined that way toward a drug free birth. I have also seen epidurals help women to relax and dilate. I'm a doula in training and would be happy to talk with you about such strategies as you envision a second birth-no obligation. I'd just appreciate the opportunity to share what I've learned. jess

I'm so sorry you had such an unpleasant first birth experience.

I intended to go med-free with my first birth, but my water broke and I had no contractions, so I was induced with pitocin. At about 5cm (not that I knew I was 5cm when I asked for it) the pain felt way too intense and I asked for (and got) an epidural. I then labored relatively comfortably for another 5 hours, then pushed rather painfully -despite the epidural- for 3 1/2 hours.

With my second, I basically anticipated a repeat of #1 and didn't put as much thought into it. BUT, I ended up with no pitocin, no epidural, not even an IV for fluids! It was not one of those too quick to do it situations, I just in the moment decided to go for it and then I kept on going for it. In the back of my mind I remembered one study arguing that babies breastfed more readily when they came out drug-free. I'm not even sure that study is true, but since #1 breastfed horribly, I was really focused on that thought this time.

So the cons with #2: it REALLY hurt. And then I hemorrhaged (didn't with #1) and ended up feeling more ill after birth of #2 than I had after #1 with all the drugs in my system. And, after all that, #2 had just as many breastfeeding problems as #1.

But the pros: kind of cool to get to say I did it, and heck, it's all over in a matter of hours anyway. Also, not sure if this one went faster because it was #2 or because it was med-free, but either way it DID go faster. (Light contractions first began at 4pm, baby was born by 5:45am next day-- vs. #1: water broke at noon, baby born 11:15am next day.)

As for pitocin labor vs. ''regular'' labor--honestly they both hurt. Everyone said pitocin labor was worse, which was a thought that powered me through at least the first 5cm of labor #2...but I'm not sure it was that much worse.

My best advice to you is go in with an open mind, but if you think you are going to want pain meds find a doctor/midwife/hospital that you believe won't pressure you not to have them! (And visa versa if you think you are going to lean med-free) because to me the worst part of either birth experience was with #1, when I was telling them I didn't want an IV and would prefer to walk the halls to induce labor (etc.) and they just kept haranguing me until I caved.

I also suggest a birth doula no matter what style of birth you end up going with. I wish you the best with your future family! Mom of 2 who tried it both ways

I would highly recommend looking for a doctor who is supportive of natural birth. Even better, find a midwife who has a lot of experience with drug-free, natural births. Do some research on natural birthing methods, like hypnobirthing and the Bradley method. When I was pregnant for the first time, I went to a highly regarded OBGYN only because I had heard of her reputation. Later, I found out that her ''intervention'' rate was nearly 100% and decided she was not for me. I found the most amazing midwife and discovered hypnobirthing. I've had two children by drug-free births -- one of which had minor complications (the baby was acynclitic and didn't descend properly), but both births were joyful, exhilarating, and PAIN- FREE. I believe that the combination of a knowledgeable, supportive midwife and the use of the hypnobirthing methods made a huge difference in the way the births turned out. If you and your midwife are confident and comfortable in what you are doing, you will not be pushed into using drugs. Best of luck to you!

Maybe you should find a new physician. I was induced for both of my pregnancies because my blood pressure went was for the health of both of us...usually a doctor will induce at your point for the health of the baby. My doctor was perfectly fine with me refusing medication with my first birth. I am a runner and quite frankly, I have a really high pain threshold (I fell flat on my face mid-way through a marathon a few months ago, cut off the tip of my finger, but still managed to finish the race and then went to get stitches...) Also, I was under a lot of pressure from my friends to 'go natural.' But, I cried uncle after 12-hours of hard labor with contractions that were literally on top of each other (nor breaks). Like you, the epidural, relaxed me, I progressed quickly with dilation and gave birth within an hour.

On my second, everything progressed more quickly (I was already more dilated when I was induced). I went in armed with a piece of advice from a dear friend of mine (who is also an OB/Gyn). It was 'no pain...uh, no pain.' I felt a little less tied to my need for no medicine. I had an epidural after about 5-hours of labor and out popped number two. All was well.

Do what works for you...ignore people who want to pressure you into doing it their way... -anon

I gave birth drug-free twice and would do it again in a heartbeat, but I understand it's not for everyone. Everything I've heard about pitocin says that it makes labor pains much more intense. I think you can walk a middle ground if you like, saying no to pitocin but still leaving yourself open to pain relief if needed. Now that you've been through birth once, I'll bet you'll be more comfortable advocating for yourself to the hospital staff about your wants and needs -- it's easy to get railroaded your first time through. You can always start out aiming for drug free and then see how things go. If you're interested in trying to go completely drug free, I highly recommend checking out hypnobirthing and/or the Bradley Method). Both my kids were hypno babies. You Are Your Own Best Advocate

Hi, I had a drug-free pregnancy and summer 08 birth, and this is my first child. I gave birth at a birth center in Oakland and had a midwife (and her assist.), and two doulas (and my husband). The support was incredible, both emotional and physical. From what I understand, the reason why pitocin can make childbirth so painful is because artificially inducing contractions causes them to come fast and furious, not at the normal pace that your body is designed to handle. Many women who are induced end up getting an epidural later to numb the pain, and it snowballs from there, as you know... My natural birth did include pain, but also a myriad of other feelings, a lot of them beautiful to experience. The experience of pain during natural childbirth changes many times over the course of the birth, and the hormones your body naturally releases in response to these pains, changes and feelings, also help to block pain. There is another phenomeonon that happens: you enter ''labor land''. When your contractions increase in duration and come closer together, you lose concept of time and space, and you will be living moment to moment, existing only to work with your physical body to bring about the birth. You may have experienced this during your previous labor, but it sounds like it was intensely negative. Naturally, it is a strange and wonderfully different state of conciousness. It is hard to explain, but it is almost like you are no longer judging your pain the way you do ''normally'', but instead, you learn to ride the waves of labor as they come and go... My birth was 12 hours, which is considered a very normal length of time for a natural birth. It felt like half that time to me. And, what is ''normal'' for another woman might be shorter or longer than that...the important thing is that your body will take care of you--it will do what it needs to do in the best way it can. (Taking care of yourself during pregnancy is a huge step towards a good birth.) To get more of a picture of what it is like, I would say that childbirth education classes through a local resource center, like Birthways (East Bay) or Natural Resources (SF), during your pregnancy are INVALUABLE in helping you make important decisions, and learn things you wouldn't otherwise--but are good to consider. Only you can say what the right way for you will be, but it is good you are willing to open yourself to other possibilities. There is Beauty in Labor

Here are some books that may help you in your journey for a better birth. You can have a GOOD birth experience! 1)The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer and Rhonda Wheeler; 2) Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin; and, 3) Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way: Revised Edition by Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg, Erick Ingraham, and Robert A. Bradley. Natural Birth Momma

stay @ home if you can! and if you cant, have a birth plan clearly available for all staff!get a Doula,bring everything you can for pain management. I had wanted a natural birth in the hospitol, am young and healthy with no complications and I had to fight throughout my entire labor with a staff that ws unable to assist someone goin natural(Kaiser) Once one interference is made, especially PIT, it snowballs into a completly controlled and unnatural birth, usually ending in C- section. look up the statistics of C-sections with Pitocin. My attending staff had never even witnessed a natural birth, and they constantly changed staff on me. I was almost tricked into having my membranes stripped at a check-up on my due date, even though I was having contractions and perfectly normal, and then had a doctor ''accidentally'' break my waters when I was 7cm because I wasnt progressing fast enough and refused PIT or ruptureing of my membranes. It was a nightmare that then led to PIT and then some narcotic witch then led to an epidural when I was almost fully dialated-witch almost ended in a C-section, only because I wasnt progressing to there schedule. I was lucky to have a determined nurse and doula who begged the MD to give her an extra 1/2hour to pump PIT to its fullest amount(after pushing without feeling it for 5hours)and luckily pushed the baby out(tearing all the way)befor they forced a c-section on me. It was horrable and I missed out on the true exp. and wonderful endorphine rush that only natural birth can provide. PIT ruined my labor, stalled my progress, caused me to loose my ability to cope with the pain. I still wonder what effects it has probably had on my body, and how I can detox it out of my system. There was no reason I could not have had a natural birth if the staff had supported it and assisted it instead of constantly wanting to control it with PIT and intervention.I was never even told the risks and effects of PIT.find out. check ur hospitols stats. on PIT induced labors and C-section rates...stay at home if u can!!!!!!!!! PIT is the pits

I had my first child through natural childbirth 4 months ago after taking a Bradley Method class with Ellen Klima in Oakland. I highly recommend her.

It seems that every woman experiences childbirth pain differently, based on the accounts given by other mothers. Of course, a lot has to do with your body and physical shape (being tall or short, fit or not, your tolerance to pain, etc), but I strongly believe there is a huge mental aspect to it as well. For myself, I would describe the physical pain as very intense menstrual cramps. However, what struck me the most was how I needed to focus and relax when I felt a contraction coming on. If something distracted me or someone was talking to me, it became overwhelming and the contraction was much worse than the ones where I was left alone and I could concentrate on what was happening. ''Losing control'' during a contraction was an awful feeling but if I just took big breaths and relaxed, the contraction really did feel manageable. I am tall (5'8'') and tried to keep fit during my pregnancy, which probably contributed to my speedy 7-hour labor, but I am really glad I had a natural birth and would do it again in a heartbeat. A friend of mine who just had her third child had her naturally whereas she had her first 2 with an epidural. She told me she felt much better afterwards than with the epidural which gave her a headache and did not make her feel well.

I also strongly believe that walking or simply standing upright helps speed things along, specially early in labor. Having an epidural confines you to bed, so I would wait as long as possible before getting one, if you must have one at all. I hope this helps! Emilie

I had the pleasure of experiencing two non-pain medication labors; the first totally under the influence of pitocin (my water had broken and labor not started when the hospital wanted it to), the second totally med free. The two were very different; some things due to the pitocin, and some due to first vs. second deliveries.

The contractions hurt about the same amount for each labor, but the difference was that in the pitocin labor the contractions came more frequently, had ''doubling'' (a small ineffective but still painful contraction following the ''real'' one), and were at high levels throughout the entire 11 hour labor. In other words, it was very active labor (bordering on transition type labor) for the entire 11 hours. And I felt no push urge; I was told when I was dilated, and pushed as directed, but did not feel the urge - I assume this was pitocin related, but am not sure.

The totally natural labor was so much more pleasant. Contractions, although painful, started off slowly and built up through out labor (which only lasted 4 hours). I felt like I was riding the labor, instead of being dragged along, if that makes sense. It was a wild ride, but awesome. I progressed quickly, and my water broke and I went from 5cm to 10cm in about 15 minutes, and then the push urge hit and it was amazing. My body knew just what to do (even though the doctor was not in the room, and nurses were saying to wait). In my case, there would not have been time for an epidural, even had I wanted it. I was only at the hospital for about 1/2 hour before my baby was born.

In retrospect, I realize the pitocin labor was extremely difficult. The two experiences were completely different. But don't get me wrong, the second labor still hurt, but was much, much more tolerable. Trish

Sounds like you have less-than pleasant memories of your first birth. My experience was an all-natural 17 hour homebirth in the peace and comfort of my home with my darling husband and my wonderful midwives. There was no way that I was going to a hospital to have my baby if I could help it. I'm a scientist and can do statistics and those led me to conclude that I had a very good chance of getting induced and/or C-section if I went to a hospital with the added bonus that I would have no clue who the nurses or OB were beforehand.

I read Ida May Gaskin's book, ''Ina May's Guide to Childbirth'' and that contained numerous stories of childbirth, such that I became unafraid of what was to come. I also read ''The thinking woman's guide to childbirth'' which really freaked me out about hospitals.

I think the way to get through labor meds-free is to surrender to the experience, not have fear, and know that our bodies are capable of doing it. This is what I used as mantra. The water tub certainly helped too. Good luck Science Mama

Hi there, I am a mother of 4. I have had a c-section and then 3 VBACS. My VBACs were natural births. Natural labor pains are little more tolerable than labor pains associated w/ pit. My advice would be to hire a doula. My best births have been w/ a doula/midwife. If you are not a high-risk pt. -wait to go to the hospital. With my 2nd birth (I had twins) I left for the hospital at 7 cents. With my fourth I left for the hospital at 8 cents. I bounced on a birthing ball, listened to music, used herbal therapy, sat in WATER (the best) - warm water in a shower. Hopsitals have their policies and they are often a pain in the neck ! So, stay at home as long as you can if you do not have medical isses that could be dangerous. Happy Birthing ! Try for natural. It is amazing ! K. Kelley

I thought I'd chime in on this one...I was induced with my first (water broke, nothing happened) and found the pain pretty intolerable. I was contracting every minute like you, but not dilating. The worst part for me was feeling like I had no control over my body. I had wonderful nurses, however, who agreed to take me off the pitocin, and lo and behold, I was laboring naturally. The pain was just as bad, but my body was in a natural rythym and it was much more tolerable.

With my second, I labored naturally from start to finish. Like the first it hurt like mad, but it seemed like my body was doing what it had to do, so it was tolerable! Good luck! Not a fan of pitocin

I had pitocin w/my first birth after labor stalled 10 hrs into it. I did not need pitocin w/my 2nd birth. I did have an epidural w/both. The differences were dramatic but hard to say if it was all due to pitocin. Pitocin definitely made the contractions much harder and faster and intense. They kept turning it off/on b/c they didnt have enough nurses to supervise so I could really feel the difference w/and w/o it. My second labor stalled after a bit too but we decided to wait to even think about pitocin and wound up not needing it. I turned the corner on my own very quickly. I think knowing what to expect from labor the second time around made me more relaxed and helped me keep myself calmer and the lack of tension seemed to help tremendously. I was offered an epidural early on for my 2nd birth (not at all pushed on me, just given the option) and I was not really even in pain so I felt weird accepting it. But I also knew there was no reason to wait til I wanted to die and I was not planning to try to go the whole way w/o it so it made sense for me. The entire experience was so much easier that it almost made it anticlimatic...Except for that beautiful baby at the end part. From my friends experiences, pitocin also made the contractions much harder and intense but I have many friends who went all natural w/similar stories -- so you never know. The big difference for me was a doctor I liked better the second time around, a very good set of nurses and anethesiologist for the epidural. I was more confident, had more trust and knew what I wanted. The first time around, even with a doula, my lack of experience made it tougher. You know what you don't want, that will really help you in the moment to decide what you do and what to ask for. Good luck!

You already got a bunch of responses, but if you can stand one more, here is mine: There is a very big difference between drugs to reduce pain and drugs to induce labor. I wouldn't rule out the first, and you may need the second. My first labor was induced and I ended up not getting an epidural. I labored for 5 hours with pitocin, contractions every 3 min or so. I got through it by focusing on one contraction at a time, not thinking ahead or planning but just being in the moment and concentrating on my breathing. (I hadn't taken any particular classes or anything.) By the time I requested an epidural it was ''too late'' and my baby was born a couple hours later, after about 45 min of pushing. (Which I thought was a lot at the time, and that I wasn't doing a good job of it!)

With baby #2, I went into labor naturally and had mild contractions all day before finally getting to the point of going to the hospital at midnight. I requested an epidural right away this time, but was told that it was too early and I needed to dilate more. I labored all night and finally at 8 or 9am got an epidural. Boy was I happy! My baby was born 3 hours later, after only 30 min of pushing. (BTW, I did a lot of walking this time, which I had ''missed'' the first time, but when I was doing it thought ''Why did I want to walk?'' All I wanted to do was lie down! So be careful what you wish for.)

BTW, both babies were born totally healthy and alert and neither had any problems nursing. Some people, when hearing about birth #1 call it ''natural'' which is crazy to me. I had pitocin, an IV, fetal monitor, was flat on my back the whole time. The only thing I didn't have was *pain relief*. The second time felt much more natural to me, but after 8 hours in the hospital I had an epidural so it doesn't count as ''natural''. Whatever.

The bottom line is, don't let them scare you off of getting pain relief because you don't want pitocin. In my experience, the contractions were similar with pitocin and without, they were just more frequent with. Don't let them bully you. Also, don't go in there alone. Be sure to bring someone who can advocate for you. A woman in labor shouldn't have to make these decisions and arguments. Best of luck to you!

There were lots of responses to this posting, and what I'd like to underline is that they varied because different bodies and different chemistries vary, so drugs will impact eash of us in distinct ways. My first baby was two weeks late and I was induced first with an (ineffectual) progesterone suppository, and then with pitocin. I am someone who tends to respond pretty strongly to drugs and this was not an exception. I found it dramatically more painful than my second (natural) childbirth, and much more volatile. I was having what my midwife called ''titanic'' contractions that would be one after another and would last for several minutes. This ended up distressing my baby who inhaled meconium. The hospital kept having to turn off the pitocin drip and then I wouldn't progress, so they'd put it back on, and then the titanic contractions would recur. This was my body, and I understand that it doesn't happen to everybody. For both of my labors, I labored for over 25 hours, but the second time it was a revelation that it could be SO MUCH BETTER, a real event in which I participated. Good luck in whatever you do! Wishing you well.

Though there have already been many responses, I just wanted to add that I had pitocin after my labor stalled for a very long time, and I opted for a walking epidural to help with the added intensity. It was great!! It still hurt, but the pain was much more manageable. I was also able to still walk around and bounce on the birth ball to get things moving and I wasn't limited to pushing on my back. Good Luck! anon

Though you may not read this, I just wanted to say THANK YOU to all the kind women who replied to my post. They were very educational, and I'll be saving them for reference in the future. While I'm a little disheartened that natural labor pains aren't less painful than pitocin pains, perhaps I can handle the not-so-relentless natural pain, with an option for epidural since I'm short and scrawny when not prego. And I'll do my best to stick to my plan. Also, kudos to those who were not at a hospital!! I don't think I can ever be that brave... still traumatized but getting better

Elective induction: pros and cons

May 2006

I am pregnant with my second child (week 36, no problems). My doctor recently told me that she recommends an induction around the 39th week because she thinks my baby will be on the large side (my first baby was 8 lbs 13 oz) and because I live and work on the other side of the bay from the hospital. I would be interested to hear from women who underwent an 'elective' induction, if that is what one would call this. I don't feel I have enough information to make a decision about this. Most of the information I've found on the internet is negative. Is this a procedure that some of you have had success with or is it better avoided? Tricia

Congratulations on your new baby-to-be! I did not have an induction myself, but I have researched it and other birth topics a fair bit. Inductions can make labor harder and increase the risk of a cesarean. Some of the things to consider are the fact that size estimates by ultrasound or exams can be quite inaccurate, so it's hard to say how big your baby will be, though I know you have some indication from your first. Also, some people can really give birth to big babies quite successfully.

One of my friends had a 13 pound baby (needed the vacuum, but otherwise fine). Was your last delivery difficult or do you fel okay with another big baby?

Also, inductions are more likely to be successful if your body is on its way to labor already -- there is something called a Bishops score that evaluates the cervix and how ''favorable'' it is for an induction, so you might what to ask your OB about it. The gist of what I have read is that cervical softeners may be a more gentle way to induce than pitocin, but others argue that pitocin can be adjusted more finely than cervical softeners, so you can discuss that with your OB. The other thing to watch out for is that there are apparently some hospitals misusing a drug called cytotec for cervical softening. This can lead to dangerous complications and the manufacturer specifically warns against its use in this setting. The appropriate drug is called cervidil. I think you are doing the right things researching and evaluating this. There are pros and cons, and you will find the path that is right for you! Julie M.

Basing an induction on the size of your last baby is faulty, IMO. My first baby was 8 lbs 15 oz and my second, 2 years later, was 7 lbs 12 oz. The first one was induced and the second was natural and I can tell you it was a HUGE difference. Every pregnancy, every baby, and every labor is different.

Labor inductions take some of the guesswork out of birth because you at least know when you're going to be in labor. But birth is not predictable. It is convenient for lots of folks (hospital, doctor, parents, family) when the birth is induced. But unless there is a health problem with the baby or mother it is not convenient for him/her. Babies were meant to come when they are ready an ex-doula

I am a small person, under 5 feet and both my babies were nearly8 pounds.

My first baby was induced at 41.5 weeks because I requested it. I just couldn't stand being pregnant any more. Induction was via an application of prostaglandin on the cervix which jump started contractions. This is the slowest and most ''natural'' way to be induced. It went pretty smoothly but very slowly. My labor was 36 hours. Baby was around 8 pounds, very healthy, and I did fine.

Second baby was a planned induction at 41 weeks. I did this based on the first experience, knowing that my mom would be able to be in the delivery room if I made an appointment. She isn't local so had to hop a plane to be there. Induction was done via an application of cytoteck at Alta Bates. It was a 2-hour labor and baby came out with cord wrapped around her neck. It was too fast and too intense. But everything turned out fine. I survived and baby was healthy. She was a few ounces shy of 8 pounds.

I don't know if the manner of induction made the difference or if the 2nd one was so fast because it was a 2nd baby but given my cervix's reluctance to open up, how large my babies were getting, and the opportunity to have Grandma in the delivery room, I would do induction again without hesitation Hope that helps.

Hi there, While I hesitate to tell anyone how they should deliver their child, as it is such a personal decision, you did ask for our experience, so here goes. My first child was a scheduled induction because she was 10 days late and I was freaking out. For me it was a total disaster, although, actually, not total because my daughter was fine and healthy, but as an experience it was traumatic. The pitocin gave me heavy contractions every thirty seconds from 9 am until she was born just before 10 at night, which is not a long labor but boy, it felt like it. In the end they had to use forceps and I tore like a paper napkin. ANYWAY, my second baby was a normal delivery and it was a piece of cake. Now, if your OB feels like your baby is getting big and wants to induce, maybe you could compromise in some way, and have her do a pitocin pessary, or some other method for starting labor, and then see if you can take it from there. I think second kids are just (a huge generalization, I know) easier to deliver because, let's face it, there's more room on the road, so to speak.

My advice to you would be to try and avoid a pitocin drip as long as you can, because it really ups the intensity of labor which is a process that is intense enough on its own. Having said all that, at the end of the day it's all good, and two seconds after the baby's in your arms you'll forget all about the dumb labor anyway, as you know already. Best of luck, and congratulations in advance!!!! Abbi

My labor was induced a week early due to high blood pressure. We could have waited, (it wasn't that high), but our doctor recommended that being so close to the due date, that we go ahead and induce. I had no problems. I went to bed, awoke the next morning feeling fine. When I started to go into labor, I immediately went for an epidural. I ended up sleeping through most of my labor. Not that the two are necessarily related.

But I never felt any side effects of the induction. Although, as you said, I know many women have had problems. But having major tears from a very large baby and painful labor doesn't sound much better. Good luck with whichever decision you make! Anon

Please don't get an induction unless your health or the health of your baby is decidedly at risk. The baby may be large, but that is no reason you can't give birth to it. I had large babies (no episiotomy/no tearing on the LARGER one) and many women also birth large babies without problems. Also, the ''guessing'' of size while baby is still in utero is notoriously WRONG. My friend got induced because the ''baby was large'' and she was anxious to not be pregnant was 6lbs 6oz....and clearly not ready to be born since she didn't progress and ended up with a c-section. The baby needs to come when it is ready, there is a whole hormonal cascade that needs to take place and sets up birth to go as well as possible. When you interupt this process, it sometimes compromises the process, in ways we don't even know yet. Please consider that nature knows what it is doing. **An Ob/Gyn nurse Practitioner who believes in the process

My induction was not really elective because my baby was two weeks past his due date but I wanted to let you know about the pros and cons of one method of induction called the Foley balloon. It's a water balloon passed through the cervix that then rests in your uterus on the cervix with two tubes hanging off of it and out of the vagina. One of the tubes is taped to the inner thigh to maintain pressure on the cervix. The other is a catheter to help drain the blood and amniotic fluid that the insertion of the Foley balloon results in. I was told that when my cervix was four centimeters dilated, the balloon would drop out of my body and I was sent home.

Well, it really got things going. I thought I was hemorraging. My mucous plug came out in two hours. And my water broke eight hours later. But I wasn't having strong regular contractions, so I went to the hospital the next day and they started pitocin. I declined to see how dilated my cervix was because everyone said with such certainty that the balloon would fall out when I was four centimeters. The pitocin got me into what felt to me like active labor, but the balloon still didn't drop out. I was feeling really discouraged and I just had a hunch that the balloon wasn't helping me any more. So I asked them to take it out. It turned out that I was four centimeters dilated but that the balloon hadn't come out because it was stuck up around the baby's head. Happily, my baby was born vaginally. I have subsequently heard from a few other people that my experience with the Foley balloon was not unusual. One woman was five centimeters dilated and it didn't fall out. So if you choose to be induced and choose the Foley balloon, don't take the assertion that it will drop out when you're four centimeters dilated as gospel. Had I known that I would have made different decisions as my labor progressed Lisa

You will no doubt get LOTS of varying responses to this one. There is no ''one'' induction story, and I've heard of a lot of stalled labor stories.

In my case, I induced my second child on his due date (at 40 weeks), because I was 4 cm dilated, 90% effaced or something like that and so very done with being pregnant. After the pitocin kicked in (that took about 1 hour), he came out in 45 minutes. It was quick and painful, but so worth it! I'd had a 13 hour labor with my first child, and this was really quite easy (though again: painful. No time for the planned epidural!).

That is my side. As for the baby, he was happy, healthy, and seemingly none the worse for wear for being coaxed out a bit early (he's now 3) Christine

Hi, I had my first child naturally - 9 lbs, 2 weeks late, no pain medication and a fast and furious labor. I was worried with baby #2 that if it came fast I wouldn't have time to get my older child properly settled somewhere while I went to the hospital. My doctor encouraged induction - but only after she saw that I was dilated and effaced naturally. She was in charge of risk reduction at a highly regarded Northeastern hospital. I was worried - effects of medication on baby, making labor harder, just that it wasn't natural, etc. but it turned out just fine and was actually quite calm and ''civilized'' compared to the frenzy of #1. I got my daughter settled at school, drove to the hospital, had the medication, chatted with my husband and parents, had pain medication (too hard to not use it this time around) and had a smooth, easy labor and healthy happy baby. One wasn't better than the other and I had turned down the offer of induction with the first but it did eliminate A LOT of the stress and uncertainty. The doctor was not cavalier about offering it and respected whatever I decided but it turned out to be a good choice for me the second time around. In terms of having a large baby - I am small and my babies were huge - I don't know - it worked out. I think you need to remember with all of these choices is that you have to make a choice and ANY choice can work out well or not so well and it doesn't necessarily mean that you made the wrong choice. There is a fair amount of uncertainty involved and just plain unknowns. You need to weigh the possibility of not being able to get over the bridge with whatever feelings you have about induction. I know that induction can mean a longer labor and some say a more intense labor but that wasn't my case. I did get to experience my son's birth (#2) in a way that I couldn't with my daughter. Best wished for a good labor and a healthy baby. Mom who has done it both ways

I had an induction resulting in a c-section at 42+ weeks. My body was just not kicking into labor. The pain was intense, baby was sideways just enough to cause back labor pain, and all the monitoring was difficult to bear. They will have you on a monitor continuously, all hooked up with wires and IV's. The pain was bad enough for me that I opted for an epidural and sure enough couldn't really feel enough to push, but baby was sideways and not moving anyway. He came out at nearly 10 pounds!

I'm trying not to give you an opinion since everyone has a different set of health concerns, just letting you know the labor was intense, difficult, and left me with what seemed to be a case of post-traumatic stress (anxiety when I thought about the labor, probably not too uncommon, and gone now!). Good luck! Lived to tell

Tricia, I did not personally have an induction, but I *highly* recommend that you read Hency Goer's book ''The Thinkng Woman's Guide to a Better Birth'' before you agree. It is an extremely well researched book. She admits upfront that she is biased in favor of natural birth, but she is very ethical about giving BOTH pros and cons of all procedures (including induction) so that readers can decide for themselves. Best of luck with your decision, Alesia

Hi: I had my daughter about 6 months ago and she is my first. She was late, and they also thought she was very big (around 9 lbs). After waiting a week past my due date, my doctor agreed to induce me. It was not what we had hoped for or prepared for, but we tried to take the whole experience in stride, and it turned out to have some side benefits. Knowing when we were going to have our baby was great. We prepared by going out to a great dinner, relaxing, spending some special time together and then checking into the hospital around 8 PM. That's the upside. The downside was being tethered to more machines than I would have liked, and spending an extra night in the hospital. (I think it is the norm that they like to admit you the night before and induce in the morning). At 6 AM they broke my water and started pitocin. The contractions were incredibly strong (like going from nothing to full out labor in about 1 hour), but because we were already in the hospital and very prepared, I only endured several hours of very active labor and then got an epidural. Everything went more or less great, and our baby was born around 3 PM. I'm not sure how ''typical'' the whole thing was, but besides missing out on the scenario we had envisoned (laboring at home as long as we could, doing all of our partner support exercises, rushed drive to the hospital, etc) the whole experience was pretty great. Our baby turned out not to be SO big, but after 41+ weeks of labor, I was ready regardless! I also read a lot about being induced, but my experience was a great one. Happy we induced!

I was induced with both of my children. The first time because I was over a week late, and the second time because my first labor was fast and I lived over the bay bridge from my doctor. It worked great for me. The positives were I could plan for the date, pack, arrange care for my other child, know when I was leaving work, make sure my doctor was available for the delivery, avoid traffic, etc. There were seriously no negatives. Both labors were entirely different and wonderful Heather

Best thing I've done! 1st baby I tried (with the ''support'' from a doula) for ''natural,'' and I went through prodromal labor for 3 days, was rejected twice from the hospital, and ultimately ended up being induced, epidural-ed, etc. anyway. 3 days later I had a 9 lb baby and incontinence that lasted almost a year.

2nd time, I had an elective induction a week early, and an elective epidural early in the labor process. I had my husband and good friend in the hospital with me, where we had fragrant flowers, a picnic (well they got to eat it!), we listened to incredible music... I call it my spa birth. Even the nurses and docs were impressed and relaxed. I checked in early in the am, and had a beautiful 7lb 14oz baby boy around dinner time. And I worried about nothing because the childcare for my older daughter had been PLANNED, my mom was able to get there from the East Coast and have my daughter get used to her, it all went great. This was important to us because we have no family nearby.

The only ''Con,'' is the same con you have regardless of your birth plan: ''plans'' don't always work perfectly. The hospital was full the day I was scheduled, so I had to wait until the next morning. Not a big deal.

And what the docs will have to tell you is that there is still a chance that the induction might not work... I suppose you could still go through a long labor, need more interventions or have a c-section - really, like in any birth experience. But what are the odds?? anon

I had a terrible experience with induction and would not recommend it unless it is medically necessary. When my baby hit the 40-week mark, the doctors started talking induction, despite the fact that both my husband and I were 3 weeks late when we were born. We resisted the induction & got them to postpone it a few days, but they convinced me it was the right thing to do -- that the hospital didn't let anyone go past 2 weeks anymore. At 10 days, they started the process. My body didn't respond to the pitocin or the misoprostal (sp?) and they had to continually ramp up the doses -- for 3 days! By the end, the contractions were quite painful, and I got an epidural. However, I never dilated so after 3 horrible days I had a c-section. There was never any medical reason to be induced -- my baby was healthy and the amniotic fluids were fine. I ended up with about the most un-natural birth I could have asked for. My advice would be to run for the hills, unless of course there is some sort of danger to you or your baby. Call my cynical, but I believe hospitals & doctors now push inductions for their convenience Corinna

I don't have experience with this, but the SF Chronicle had an article yesterday about how birthing babies early is becoming a serious public health problem because this is dangerous for the baby. The article can be found here. I am of the opinion that you should wait until at least 40 weeks Anon

Well, I'm sitting here with my second child, born Saturday afternoon (it's Monday morning now) after an induced labor, and I couldn't have been happier with the procedure. The big con, from my point of view: there ain't nothing natural-feeling about it. If it's important to you to experience the process of labor unfolding naturally, and to be intimate with what your particular body wants to do with it, then you might be more disappointed by the whole thing than I was. If you have the labor induced, everything procedes by dosage and your body just gets marched along at the pace set by that, but I had been in this horrible 'pre-labor' for two days, with no end in sight. This meant (in my case) continuous mild cramping, continuous moderate-to-severe backpain, and unremitting, intense nausea. By the time we freaked ourselves into thinking that we hadn't felt the baby moving for three hours and went into Kaiser to get me re-hydrated via i.v., I hadn't been able to eat or sleep for two days, or keep fluids down for 8 hours, and the idea of having this state of affairs continue for 5 more days until my actual due date arrived just made me want to die. So we induced. Hurrah! Six hours later, new baby! They started with 4 drops/ minute, then went gradually up from there, and when the contractions were more than I wanted to handle I asked for the epidural. No episiotomy, no tearing, healthy baby, healthy mom. So, I guess I'm saying that no matter what the online concensus is about induction, ultimately you have to judge by what's going on with you and your body when it's decision-making-time. Labor with my first-born went great without it, with my second it just didn't. I should say I *did* have a midwife in charge of the event (thank you, Kaiser Walnut Creek), which probably helped to mediate the mechanical/chemical feel of the procedure. Good luck! Cory

Hello, I wanted to respond to your post because I chose to induce. We did it 2 weeks prior to my due date (for personal family reasons) and it turned out to be a very positive experience. We went to the hospital and checked in around 7am, and they induced at around 8:30am. I had an epideral about half an hour later (the contractions come on hard and fast, just a warning). I had a relaxing, calm day with my husband, mom and sister. I had my baby at around 5pm that day. I know this isn't everyone's choice but I would do it again if the circumstances seemed right.

For example, this time when I deliver we will have a toddler and live 2 to 3 hours away from the closest family member. I would rather schedule the delivery and have everything arranged and calm for our daughter. Again, just a personal preference. I think some people are really focused on everything happening ''naturally'' but to me the point is having a positive delivery experience, having a healthy baby, and helping my toddler through a tramatic time. It was very positive for us. Good luck Dana

Hi there, just wanted to let you know that my first was also big (8lbs, 15oz) and my second a little bigger (9lbs, 3oz). My OB said that since delivering the first went fine (long labor but relatively short pushing and no complications), there should be no worries the 2nd time around. And indeed, there weren't -- super fast labor, about 5 minutes of pushing, and out he popped! So you might want to consider what your actual risk factors are. Size of baby by itself is not necessarily a cause for concern unless you already had a problem the first time, e.g., a shoulder that got stuck, etc. Some women can deliver big babies just fine. BTW, I'm relatively small framed at 5'5'' and 125lbs so you also can't go by mom's appearance. Best of luck and have fun squeezing all that chubba! We grow 'em big

I was really against induction with my first child, had my doula ready and was supported in this decision by friends and family. I was doing non-stress tests every other day, felt fine and I went 15 days past my due date still very opposed to induction as I wanted to try for a natural birth. What happened was that the placenta failed, and after 12 hours of labor, the baby almost died and we had a horrible emergency C-section and neither my husband or myself even witnessed the birth of our son, let alone were able to hold him for many days as he was on a ventilator in the NICU. I realize my experience is pretty harsh, but in hindsight, I wish that I had gone for an induction and hadn't waited. At least that would have given me a chance to be awake and possibly with my spouse for the birth of our son. Three women in my family have had successful vaginal births after being induced. I know that it is not ideal, but at least you will be making your choice rather than waiting and waiting and then stalling in labor with a large baby and having no choice but go under the knife. This is a really tough decision, my heart is with you and your husband all my best to you

I would recommend against induction unless for a very compelling reason, which estimated birth weight is not. Large babies can be born vaginally. In my experience as a doula, early inductions are frequently unpleasant, long, include lots of interventions and often end with C-sections. If your body is not ready for labor, it takes a lot of artificial coaxing to get it there. You are potentially looking at a couple days of pitocin (which will be almost unbearable without an epidural, so not much chance for a natural labor if that had been a desire for you). Extended artificial labor could stress the baby. I've seen a number of inductions that go on so long that either the doctor decides it's not working (C-section) or the baby goes into distress (C-section).

It is difficult to accurately estimate the size of your baby, and whether your delivery of a larger baby will be difficult. If you don't have gestational diabetes, the baby should be growing at a normal rate, and your body should be able to handle it. Also, second deliveries are SO much easier than the first, I'd let nature take it's course. Be patient, and you are probably looking at a fast labor. Try to induce, and you could drag it out for days, stuck in bed, with IVs and monitors, away from your family. Not pretty unless it's *really* medically necessary.

If you are worried about making it to the hospital on time, be sure to leave as soon as you recognize labor as ''real'', don't hang around at home, cause 2nd times do go pretty fast. If you are really worried, move to a hotel or friend's house near the hospital when your due date approaches.

Hope that helps you make a decision, good luck! Trish

I think you really need to ask yourself if you will be disappointed if you make a decision that you regret later. Personally, I would never want to be induced. From what I understand, the most brain development occurs in the last few weeks (days even) of justation- Babies who are induced are not ready yet. Why is your doctor concerned about the baby's size?? Big babies are born all the time. Look into yourself and try to figure out what you want to do, don't let other people make your decisions for you good luck

I had 2 births & both were by induction. Both of my babies were 2 weeks overdue therefore my doctor suggested that I get induced. With the first induction I was truly scared because I didn't know what to expect, but then again I think if the baby was to come naturally that I wouldn't know what to except either. But everything turned out just fine. I heard from several people that induction labor pains are a lot worst than the natural contractions. But I had a wonderful doctor, so as soon as she started the induction she made sure that I was able to get an epidral right away. Needless to say, I didn't feel any pain. When I got pregnant again, I was then again worried about having contractions & a natural birth, but my little one once again didn't want to come out. I was induced again, but felt a lot better about it since I already been through it. One good thing I can say about induction for me is that everything happened fast. I beleive a lot faster than if I was to have a natural delivery. For each induction I was induced around 11am & 7pm that evening I was pushing. My babies were okay & very alert. The only con I have is that I have never experience having a natural birth, meaning not knowing about water breakage or feeling the pains of contractions. So you will be just fine, just suggest to your doctor that you will like some meds because like I said I was told that induction contractions are a lot stronger. If you have any other questions feel free to contact me Shelly

You may want to read the Induction Fact Sheet put together by the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services: Anon

I feel compelled to write, because a lot of the responses to the original question were stories of people's personal experiences, positive and negative, and most were inductions that occurred POST-term. In my mind, it's very different to be induced because you're past your due date versus because someone thinks your baby is too large to be delivered. As some posters mentioned, estimating a baby's size (not to mention a woman's ability to deliver the baby) involves a lot of guesswork. In fact, they say that of the three ways to measure - ultrasound, external belly size and the preganant woman's intuition - the pregnant woman's guess tends to be the most accurate!

I'm not arguing for or against, but I think it's a very serious decision to trigger labor before one's due date, especially since due dates themselves are so variable. You don't really know if your body or your baby are ready. So think hard about where your greatest anxiety lies - and get a second opinion if that will help you make your decision! There's certainly no harm in that.

In any case, good luck. I can certainly empathize with the doubt and fear you must be feeling. Your story reminds me, sadly, of how much stress, pressure, and anxiety I faced with my first daughter's birth (born nearly three weeks late, induced) -- just remember that labor and delivery are a TINY part of the overall process and experience of bringing a life into the world. Trust yourself in whatever choices you make. anon

Natural induction methods?

April 2006

I am stressed out as I have passed my due-date and my doc is strongly suggesting induction.Has anyone tried any of the natural induction techniques to get labor going? Such as castor oil? Evening primrose oil? Accupressure? Cohosh/Herbs? If so, how long after your due date did you do them? What happened? Does anyone know of any reason NOT to use these methods, if your due date has passed? Desperately waiting for labor

When I was pregnant with my first, we tried everything you listed, some more than once, plus others (intercourse every day for 3 weeks, castor oil TWICE, acupuncture 3 times, membranes stripped 4 times, shot of tequila, enema, etc. etc.). I was planning a home birth and desperately wanted to avoid a hospital induction. I finally got induced at 42 weeks. I'm now one day past my due date for #2, and my take-home message from last time is that babies come when they want to come, and nothing you can do will work if they're not ready (but if you are, one of those methods could push you over the edge). My advice: do nice things for yourself every day and try to enjoy this time. Debbie

I haven't tried any induction methods as mine was born on time, but I have heard it said that the only really good way is lots of sex. There is a component of semen that ripens the cervix (hence how it got in there in the first place). Nipple stimulation is supposedly good too.

Castor oil... I would try everything else before trying this. Yeah, it usually gets the job done, but then you are sick and miserable when your labor starts - not my idea of a good time.

Good luck, and congratulations!

I tried all the methods you mentioned to get labor rolling. Primrose oil, acupuncture, the castor oil omelette laced with vodka. Our daughter just wouldn't budge! Finally, at three weeks past the due date, the fluid level started to drop and I was induced. THREE DAYS LATER after horrible contractions and misery our darling girl was born.

I finally had an epidural 5 hours before she was born. The epidural relaxed me after the horror of contractions and she came out. My suggestion is get induced then immediately get an epidural and enjoy your new baby! anon

I attended Saraswathi's prenatal yoga class a day after I was due and she did a chanting circle for impending laborers. My water broke several hours later. Then when contractions did not start I practiced accupressure points I learned from her birth class and had a relatively rapid first labor. I used the same techniques on my sister when an epidural stalled her labor and she dilated completely while napping in 1 hr. anonymous

We tried a BUNCH. Sex, nipple stimulation, tractor ride, special pedicure at Azul off Solano, prego pizza at Skipolini's in Walnut Creek, spicy hot chocolate, jumping jacks, spicy Thai food at Ruen Pair (my scalp was sweating), maybe a few others... but still no baby.

In my case, I was allowed to schedule induction up to 2 weeks after my due date. I selected a date slightly sooner and my water broke before the date arrived. Once that happened, I progressed slowly on my own and required the standard interventions I had hoped to avoid (namely Pitocin)... so that would be my only caution.

Good luck! anon

My water broke on my due date and I didn't have any contractions. My midwife, Jeri Zukoski, had me go to sleep early (to get lots of rest) and make a castor oil omelette. It worked perfectly. Had contractions in a couple of hours and was able to have a natural birth. And the protein in the omelette was very nourishing and filling!

A friend recently passed her due date by about a week and her OB told her to take the castor oil straight. What I thought was weird was that she told her to do it in the evening. So my friend didn't get any sleep and had to wake up her husband at 1:00am to go to the hospital. Had I known she was going to do this, I would have suggested that she ask her OB if she can do it first thing in the morning.

I've also heard about some lovin' with your partner, long walks, going to the beach (something about the waves) and spicy foods.

Before trying any of this, please talk to your midwife or doctor about this

Good luck susan

Have you tried hiking steep inclines (not too steep) and acupuncture? Just a thought.

hi, i didn't see the original post, but wanted to chime in anyhow in case it's still helpful.... my sister had the experience of being told by an nurse at kaiser ( i think) that the way to do the nipple stimulation to induce is to really pull hard on the nipples for five minutes on, five minutes off, five on, five off etc (i think she took some breaks once in a while too) and that seemed to have the effect on my sister of pitocin (well, maybe not quite that strong, but strong). she was surprised at how vigorously and consistently it needed to be done to work. good luck!

Acupuncture to start labor

June 2005

Can anyone suggest a specific acupuncturist to help start my labor? I'm 40 weeks pregnant and would like to avoid a hospital induction. I looked at the past advice and it was a little outdated and vague. Erica

Try Leslie Oldershaw, who specializes in fertility treatments and other reproductive issues. I love her office; it is the cleanest, most soothing medical space that I have ever been in. Leslie is smart, funny and truly caring, and her assistants are wonderfully competent and warm. Leslie's number is 510-595-1175. She's on Grand Ave. near the Piedmont border. anon

I would highly recommend Marti Lee Kennedy for this. I know that she is in the older BPN archives, but she is still one of the best for women's health. I was 14 days over my due date, and my scheduled induction was in just 2 days. She immediately followed up, got me into her office within 6 hours, and called to check on me for the next few days. I went into labor less than 24 hours after our session. Plus, it was highly relaxing in a time when stress is coming at you from every direction as folks keep pestering you with ''Haven't you had that baby yet?'' Her office is at 2615 Ashby (just west of College Ave.) phone number 510- 843-5000. Tell her hi from Lou and Cole!

I am not sure if you will have already delivered by the time this is posted, but if you are still pregnant and in need of an accupuncturist, I highly recommend Maureen Raytis. She is in Oakland and specializes in women's health and infertility. I am a patient of hers and she has helped me greatly. She is gentle and smart and will not insist that you abandon all western medicine to treat with her. Her number is: 510 501 6960 Good luck anon

My wife received great care throughout her pregnancy from Maria Yung, an acupuncturist at East Bay Pain Care in Oakland. She originally went in for low back pain from pregnancy, but continued after the back pain was gone because her health improved so much and she felt so much better overall. With regular acupuncture and herbs prescribed by Dr. Yung, this pregnancy was completely different from the first time - so much smoother and less painful for her. We recommend Dr.Yung to any woman going through difficulties with pregnancy and labor. Her contact info is: Maria Yung, L.Ac. (510) 444-2772 Hope this helps! Carlos

Folk remedies for starting labor

July 2003

Hey there, my due date is July 19 and I'm looking for ways to get things started naturally in case it comes and goes uneventfully. You know, folk remedies or stories passed among pregnant women about food or other activites to get things going. I already know about the Prego Pizza (yuck!!) and about having sex, but what else is out there? Thanks for the ideas! Jen

A friend swears by taking a sip of castor oil -- started two labors for her!! CG

My child was late and I had already tried sex, walking, scrubbing the floor, ''prego pizza,'' and worst of all, eggs scrambled with castor oil! YUCK 2oz of oil mixed with 2 eggs. My doula had me do this two days in a row. The memory is almost making me throw up now! Nothing worked. By the tenth day, my OB was very concerned, and we decided to go with induction. My sweet daughter was born two days later. Been there, done that

Pineapple! Eat tons of pineapple. Fruity Mom

this isn't a folk remedy- its chinese medicine. when the due date of my healthy pregnancy came & went, i visited the Shen Clinic in north berkeley. While he doesn't recommend this unless you're baby is head down and ready-to-go, i received over the counter herbs in a powder form (~$12). They have a cumulative effect i was told. i took 3 or 4 ''doses'' before i went into labor! I asked and was told there are no negative effects, they will not distress the baby. I had an amazing 9 hour labor without medication. While i hope i don't have to bring labor on again, i would definitely recommend this to anyone seeking to get things moving. congrats! tabitha

Walk, walk, walk! Walking is the best thing you can do right now. Not only does it get things moving in your body, it gets you more in shape for your upcoming labor. Jill

I would be very cautious about folk remedies for starting labor. For my second child I had a midwife and she had me on a whole regimen of herbs during the last two weeks of my pregnancy. A few days before the two-weeks-after-due-date window was up, I took some herbs in tincture and the old standby of castor oil. It worked and my baby was born later that night. But I have to say that I tried castor oil three weeks earlier in the pregnancy (at my midwife's advice to induce for a mysterious amniotic fluid leak) and all I got was stronger contractions, that tapered off, and vicious diarrhea. So that experience made me realize that for all the ways to start a labor, it won't get going until everything -the effacement, the baby, etc. is ready. But through all this I had the guidance of my midwife. I urge you NOT to try just anything with the slew of advice you will invariably receive. I assume you have an ob/gyn or you wouldn't be posting. My advice would be to seek out a naturopathic doctor or herbalist, homeopath, acupuncturist, or doula. You can find recommendations for any of these on the Parents Network. At the very least ask the people at Lhasa Karnak (sell herbs etc at two locations in Berkeley- Shattuck and Telegraph both near Body Time stores).

Natural and herbal and folk is all well and good, but it doesn't automatically mean safe. Please seek professional guidance. I know it is hard when the due date has come and gone (both my babies were late) or when you face an automatic induction via pitocin. Be well and don't underestimate the power of sex, sperm contains prostaglandin that can help thin the cervix. Sonya

The castor oil omelette works like a charm! A midwife recommended to me that I fry some eggs in a certain number of ounces of castor oil (I think 4?) and make an omelette out of it. It is somewhat greasy but no more so than most restaurants, and within hours labor started, and I gave birth about 3 hours later completely naturally! I was expecting side effects but experienced none. Gave birth on my due date

Hi, try a massage with a massage therapist who can do prenatal massage and, in particular, will work on your acupressure points for uterine stimulation. I had great luck during my last two pregnancies with Jennifer Shelton in Alameda 522-9317. Of course, there's also castor oil, but that can be pretty rough and you probably shouldn't do it without your midwife's oversight. Good luck! Susan

Hi. I'm sure you know this already but it's possible (and likely) that your due date will come and go. You could carry for a total of 42 weeks before you go into labor. And it is best to let nature takes its course. That said, I will tell you what worked for me. My water broke but I wasn't having contractions. After 12 hours of waiting, my midwife recommended a castor oil milkshake (2 oz. castor oil, vanilla ice cream and OJ). Sounds gross, I know, but the ice cream emulsifies the oil. It tasted like a creamsicle. Anyway, I had to have two of these about 4 hours apart before my contractions began. But when they finally started, they were 2 minutes apart. I have to caution you though. Before castor oil works as a uterine contractor, it cleans out your intestines. And I mean, CLEAN. If you think you've had diarrhea, think again. WHOA. My intestines rumbled for days afterwards, which was unpleasant, to say the least. Good luck and I hope you have a short labor! anonymous

My sister was overdue by a week and a half. What did she do? She ate the magic omlette. What does it consist of? Castor oil, eggs, etc. It is nasty as all get out but she had the baby the same day after eating the castor oil egg dish that morning. Got to the hospital at 342 and she had the baby at 400, yes, within 20min. Be careful! Don't know the exact mixture but the deal is the castor oil about 3 tablespoons and the egg to help slow down the side affects. Hope this helps. mae

I know of two women who kick-started their labors with a castor oil milkshake. They said it was pretty gross-tasting, but obviously it did the trick. Sarah

I was determined to avoid induction and having heard that castor oil is both potentially bad and disgusting, and having walked until my feet ached, I went to my accupuncturist. Two treatments four hours apart and the late baby rocketed out. My OB recommended it but was shocked b/c she had just checked my cervix and it was doing nothing and 12 hours later I had the baby. The accupuncture definitely got things going--FAST! Elizabeth

After my first child was two weeks early my NP was positive my second would be. Imagine my surprise when on my due date I was no where near delivering! I went to Pauline Wong--an accupuncturist with Ashby Complementary Medicine near ABMC. She used accupuncture (a heavier ''dose'' with vibrations) and I was contracting heavily that afternoon/evening. Two days later our baby was born! PS I tried the castor oil--I may be the only person on the planet who it didn't work for. I had massive cramping but no bowel movements or baby! Lisa

I hear castor oil does the trick, though I've never tried it. Good luck!

Have you tried any natural induction methods?

December 2003

Has anyone tried any of the natural induction techniques to get labor going? Such as castor oil? Evening primrose oil? Sex? Liquorice? If so, how long after your due date did you do them? What happened? Does anyone know of any reason NOT to use these methods, if your due date has passed?

I was 10 days late with my first baby (15 years ago) and my midwife suggested castor oil, especially since I was 35 and likely to get a lot of pressure to be induced with pitocin at 2 weeks. I took it, with some struggle--it really does taste awful, and started labor maybe a few hours later.

The main negative thing I experienced was a kind of chaotic labor in the first few hours. I felt as though I had one set of contractions happening as I dilated, and another set as the castor oil worked its way through my digestive system, and sometimes they worked fine together and sometimes they were on different rhythms. All in all, labor went smoothly, judged against the large spectrum of possibility anyway--it stopped for a few hours at one point and then really got going after a 4 to 6 hour break. After that, I dilated for maybe 4 more hours at home, went to the hospital and had 4 to 5 hours of steadily intensifying contractions, an hour of really intense transition, an hour of pushing, and out he came. Felt like a long time to me, but it was considered a short labor, and by the end, the castor oil was long gone and out of my mind. good luck!

Hi there- to answer yo! ur question, yes there are a few different things you can try to naturally start labor. My other question for you is: is your doc pushing you for an induction and thats why you are looking for natural methods? You can start using the natural stuff once you are 40 weeks pregnant and always after discussing them with your doctor and letting them know you are trying these things.

First is sex- what got baby in there is what can get them out... there is prostaglandins in a man's semen and if you can get comfy enough during the act to actually orgasm, 'the sperm treatment' as I liked to call it will hopefully stimulate your cervix while your big 'O' will get the uterus to contract. If your baby is ready and your body is ready to labor, it will hopefully start mild contractions for you. another thing is nipple stimulation. roll nipples for 2 min, rest for 3 then roll for 2 rest for 3min, for a total of 20 min. Then wait and see what happens. Again, it will only work if your body is ready to labor.

Castor oil is another option, but trust me it is totally disgusting and didn't do a darn thing for me. The idea behind drinking it is that it will stimulate your bowels (diarhea) and maybe by doing that it will stimulate your uterus to contract. You can also take a little bit of the oil and rub on your stomach which will absorb through the skin, but dont do both at the same time becasue you can overstimulate and you DONT WANT THAT.

So please please discuss this with your doc before trying and feel free to contact me if you want some info about medical induction risks etc. I feel strongly against induction unless there is good reason and there are a lot of reasons why it could be bad for you or end up with a c-section.

Shaana Keller, Doula Vallejo, CA

When I was one week over-due with my second child, I went to see the acupuncturist Martie Kennedy (on Ashby, across the street from Alta Bates.) She did an hour-long treatment starting at 3:00 in the afternoon, my water broke at 1:00 am in the morning, I was in active labor by 7:00 am, and the baby was born before noon. Bearing in mind that the odds of going into labor at any point when you're overdue are very high, my perception is that the acupuncture treatment was just enough of a nudge to get my labor going. I've talked to many other women who's labor came on shortly after acupuncture, and there aren't any side effects at all or any risk to the baby. Alysson

You've already gotten some good advice. I had my son at 41 weeks 6 days, and was pretty determined to avoid induction. (I really wanted a drug-free birth, and all indications were that my baby was healthy.) Here's what I did:
*Had sex at least once a day.
* Tried to walk for at least 15 minutes every day. (I was walking the 3 miles around Lake Merrit up until my due date, when it got to be too much)
* Nipple stimulation. (I don't remember how long I'd do it, but I know I'd do it a few times a day.)
*Evening Primrose Oil. I got some caplets from a health food store. EPO has natural prostiglandins in it. I think I used a caplet as a suppository a couple of times a day.
*I ate a lot of spicy food.
When I did finally go into labor, it was pretty fast and uncomplicated: I started having light contractions around 6 PM, my water broke at 11PM, and my son was born at 4 AM. My only other piece of advice is to try to enjoy this time before your baby is born. Good luck! Kerri

I'm 40 weeks - doctor wants to induce

August 2003

I'll be 40 weeks pregnant tomorrow, and at my appt today my dr said I am still only dilated 1 cm and started talking about scheduling an induced labor sometime in the next 2 weeks. Has anyone had induction? I've heard it's incredibly painful, plus I'm disappointed about the idea of not being able to labor at home at all. For folks who were induced - were you forced to lay in bed the whole time for the fetal monitoring, or could you move around? Did you use any pain relief like an epidural? How long was your labor? Why did your dr advise you to induce? We have another appt on Monday, where they will do some tests to see how the baby is doing, but of course these are all questions I thought of AFTER I left my dr's office today (I was pretty shaken up with the idea of having to be induced).

Any info that could possibly ease my mind or at least give me a better idea of what might happen would be greatly appreciated. I go to Dr Foley at Berkeley Orinda Women's Health, and I'm having my baby at Alta Bates.
First Time Mommy - Freaking Out

I too was induced for my first child (10 days overdue) and went through the very same angst you seem to be experiencing when I was scheduled. I assure you, however, that it was much, much better than I could have hoped. In fact I would have induced my second child if I had the option.

First off, when you're induced, you know for sure that won't be leaving the hospital without a baby (many of my friends went in only to be told to return when they were more dilated, a very frustrating experience). With a scheduled birth, you also have a last bit of time to enjoy your pre-child lives a bit, go out to a last dinner, make sure the refrigerator is stocked and the fish are fed and so on. You can also have nice breakfast before you go in, which is important since you might not eat for awhile once you get started laboring. We found it also convenient for our friends and families who were planning on helping us out afterwards. They knew when to be available.

Depending on your specific situation, there shouldn't be any reason you won't have a ''normal'' labor, except it will be entirely in the hospital and in an outfit in which you have no say. Once you are induced, which primarily involves a pitocin IV and maybe breaking your water, you can walk around, take a shower, do whatever it is you need to do (as long as you don't mind doing it with a your butt hanging out of a hospital gown and a bunch of IVs and monitors hooked to you). You might have the baby relatively quickly, or it may take a while; it depends on the individual. My induced labor took about 8 hours, I think probably just a bit less than what it would have taken had it come naturally.

As far as the pain itself, either way you are going to have contractions. Like you, I was fearful of the pain, but I actually found my second delivery, a natural one, far more painful because it happened so quickly (3 hours from contraction one to daughter) and with such intensity.

I am a real weenie when it comes to pain and had no desire whatsoever to experience a lot of it. I figured I'd have enough pain healing after the child was born. The nice thing about being in the hospital is that you have a more say about how you handle your pain. If you aren't ready for the epidural but you want some help, there are medications to take the edge off. While I held out as long as I could, I finally took the nurse up on the fentanyl (sp?), which helped me a lot (and our Apgar scores were all 10s from the beginning). Once you get the epidural, however, you'll need to lie down.

All this said, whether your child decides to appear on his/her own or with help, I think you will find that your labor and birth is special, that in the end, it doesn't really matter where or how it takes place as long as the child arrives safely. I wish you a healthy birth and a lovely lifetime with your new bundle of joy. I'm sure everything will turn out just fine.

Induced and Happy

Hi My first baby was induced 3 weeks early, he had stoped growing and had the umbilical cord around his neck that was the reason. But it was fine, In my case I could not walk around after they started the treatment, excepeted to go to the restron or for a shower. I did not feel the pain to be any worst them when my second baby was borne (normal birth). I had an epidural on both birsthdays and asked for it when the pain was umberable for me (I am not realy good in feeling pain). From the time they started treatment until my baby was borne was more or less 8 hours. I also had my kids at Alta Bates. My son is now a health two and a half years old. It is going to be fine. Maro

It is standard medical practice to schedule an induction at 2 weeks post due date if the mother does not begin labor naturally. It is considered unsafe to keep the baby in utero longer than that period because the placenta ages and can cause complications for the baby. It doesn't sound like your doc is suggesting anything out of the realm of safe practices. I was induced and had a bad experience but plenty of women are induced and have no problems whatsoever. Good luck. alia

With my first child, I also went long, and so I decided to ''help'' him along naturally (for many reasons, including my dread fear of Pitocin). I used black cohosh and acupuncture, and he came that afternoon. The labor was not too bad, and I was able to do it without drugs.

The next time around, I had to be induced by Pitocin due to liver problems (it basically stopped working). It was fine (as in: I walked around, but hooked up to many monitors, and didn't really hurt) until the Dr. broke my water (because the Pitocin really wasn't doing anything on its own), then all hell broke loose. They just couldn't drop the Pitocin dose fast enough for me, and I ended up getting a shot of drug to help (managed to avoid the epidural thing, but not sure I would in retrospect - it was so much worse than the first time).

Your questions: while the contractions were mild, I could move around (but still hooked up), but once they got more intense, they wanted me in the room and lying down. First labor was 8 hours, second one was 4 hours of Pitocin, then 2 hours of intense pain after they broke my water (really only 2 hours of labor).

I'd be happy to talk with you further if you have any questions. Good luck!


I went into Alta Bates 10 days after my due date for an induction - I was 1 cm and maybe 50% effaced. They placed Cervidil (goes behind the cervix) in the evening with the plan to start the Pitocin (the IV medication) in the morning. The Cervidil is supposed to ripen the cervix and make it more likely to dilate with the Pitocin, and maybe dilate you to 2 cm. This was not the case for me. The Cervidil turned out to be just the nudge my body needed and I went into labor about 45 minutes later.

My experience was quick - my baby was born 4 hours later with no need for IV medication or epidural. I was in bed most of the time, but this was my own choice - the contractions were very strong (because I was dilating so quickly). Quicker labors run in my family - my mom was induced with me (first child) with Pitocin and I was out in 8 hours.

In preparation for the induction I had asked some questions. At Alta Bates, you are able to get up out of bed even when being induced with Pitocin (if you start with the Cervidil, you do have to stay in bed for about 2 hours). But, do have to come back periodically for them to monitor the baby. People do say that Pitocin makes the contractions harder, but let's face it, labor is no breeze either way. An epidural is not necessary for an induced labor, plenty of women have delivered without pain medication despite the induction.

My main advice is not to let the induction scare you. Be your own advocate to otherwise have your labor the way you would like. If walking around and avoiding pain medication are your plan, these are still possible. And don't feel bad if you decide to use pain medication - most women these days do, even despite the resurgence of wanting a 'natural labor'. Best of luck and just focus on the most important outcome - a happy, healthy baby.


In my opinion, there are plenty of things to freak out over when it comes to pregnancy and parenthood, but induction need not be one of them. There are probably as many different stories about induction as there are about labor, but here's mine (also at Alta Bates). With both kids, due date came and went and then another week or 10 days passed and doctor started talking induction--primarily because baby wasn't getting any smaller and it was time to get him/her out. Both times I was more dilated than you are, but not experiencing contractions. Both times contractions started around when they would have induced, but nothing much happened so they proceeded with the induction. Could have stayed home longer, but ''laboring at home'' takes on less luster when you realize your baby could come quickly and you're miles and a very uncomfortable car ride away from where you need to be when that happens. Both times the labor speeded up and was more ''intense'' -- faster and harder-- than it probably would have been (but then how do you judge these things or compare your labor to anyone else's--I doubt that I would have thought a non-induced labor was not intense!). The alternative, however, was sitting around in semi-labor for days at a time, which wasn't particularly attractive either--nor safe for the baby. First time I was able to walk around as much as I wanted, with occasional external monitoring. No external efforts to speed labor (walking, nipple stimulation, breaking of waters) helped, but the pitocin did and I was very grateful for it. Second time they monitored internally and so I couldn't move around, but that was due to baby's position, not the use of the drugs. Second time the labor seemed more manageable--less out of control--but that could have been simply because second labors are generally easier and I also knew more about what to expect. I do think that dosage is important when they put you on pitocin: some doctors ramp it up slowly to avoid giving more than is needed, others want to get it over with (in my case, the dosage in the ''easier'' labor was lighter, but again, it was also my second). In either case, both babies were delivered vaginally with absolutely no painkillers and the fact that I was induced made little difference in the experience: hurts like hell and then it's over. My view is that labor is a means to an end and though I'm really glad I had the experience, it was the end result that counted! Also, there are so many other things to be anxious about, I'd relax about this one. Most moms will tell you labor was the easy part!! mother of two

There are so many scary stories out there about induced labor that I wanted to share these 2 positive stories with everyone.

(1) With my first child, after I got past 40 weeks, I was freaked about complications that result from later term babies and really sick of being pregnant (back pain, peeing every 10 minutes, etc.) so I asked my doctor if I was required to go a full 2 weeks post-due date before induction. He said it was my choice. I requested to be induced at 41 weeks. They applied prostaglandin to my cervix and that jump started contractions. It was a 26-hour labor and I was obliged to wear a fetal monitor because I said yes to any and all drugs offered (narcotics and epidural). So, as far as I know, you can refuse a fetal monitor if you don't want drugs.

(2) With baby #2, they induced at 41 weeks by applying cytotec to my cervix. I had a 2 hours labor because it was a second baby, because cytotec is very powerful, and because I labored on a rubber ball like the ones at the gym instead of in a hospital bed (so was working with gravity). There were no drugs with that labor (too short) but they asked me to wear a fetal monitor and I reluctantly agreed. Near the end, the fetal monitor indicated that the baby's heart rate was slowing down with every contraction. Sure enough, when my little one came out, she had a cord wrapped around her neck twice. The doctor snipped the cord immediately.

So fetal monitors are really uncomfortable but they do serve a useful purpose to alert doctors when something is wrong.

Hope that helps. -Anon

I went to 42 weeks and had to be induced (also at Alta Bates). They brought me in at 6pm, inserted cervidil to dilate my cervix, and I went into labor at 2am. I handled the labor with breathing techniques until the afternoon, at which time I got some pain relief (fentinol). I was able to manage the labor until about 6pm, when they gave me pitocin to speed up the process (cervix wasn't dilating and I was going to need a c- section). Once you get pitocin, the labor is much harder to handle. I had an epidural at about 8pm, I think. Then you feel nothing, unfortunately you must lie in bed and can't move around. I finally gave birth (vaginally) at 1:17 am after 23 hours of labor.

I would say that although I didn't experience the labor in the comfort of my own home, ultimately all you really want is a healthy baby, and when you are in the middle of that process, it is your focus. My friend, a nurse practioner, told me that to have the best birth experience, just roll with the punches and don't have any preconceived ideas about how it should be. That was the best advice I got. And now I have a perfect, beautiful and healthy 1 year old baby. The nurses at Alta Bates are great, by the way, and they did absolutely everything to make it as positive an experience as they could. My only other advice, if you can afford a private room (about $300 bucks a night), it is worth it. Your husband can stay in the room with you and you have time to adjust.

Good luck! anonymous

Hi there, Well, I had some similar occurances but different. I had a mild case of pre eclampsia and I was put on bed rest for 2 and 1/2 months!! And told to lie on my left side and drink like 5 gallons of water a day!!! Tell that to a pregnant women, ''stay in bed but drink tons of water''. LOL. :) I did it and I avoided early labor.

However I still had some sympstoms and monthly then bimonthly and once in the hospital I had to be monitered on a fetal moniter. It was all very upsetting but I just kept on crocheting her baby blanket and did get up for a few hours a day and do something nice for myself to keep the chin up. I was told I would be induced if I was even a day late due to all this! Well, I just started talking to my baby, even almost yelling! I demanded that she come out without it, and she began her labor on her due date! Great I thought. It turns out my labor lasted a total of three days and nights as it kept starting then stopping. Finally my water broke and after 9 hours they put me on the drip patocin (sp?) with my knowledge. They did not however tell me that they kept turning up the amount I was receiving and my last three hours of labor were really painful. I also had back labor and was unable to turn onto my front or squat as the moniter went off! I must say all this soured me for another go. When she was born, had to have a epidural as well, heart rate went down, I knew it was because she was just stresed out from the fast labor but was so in my pain and mind I couldn't speak so they did it, she was a 9 and a 9 an the apgar test/score. So the drugs did not hurt her at all. Nor did they hurt me except for during labor. But I must also say that the baby is now 13 and I wouldn't trade her for the world!!!! I would do it all over again in a heartbeat but with a few different agenda's. One, have an advocate! My husband didn't know it was wrong or that this was why my labor was so intense. He should have, arm your husband with research in advance. Additionally, don't let them keep turning it up unless they can convince you and your husband who will be the rational one there that it is medically necessary and why. And I would be prepared better. I would have more comforts and demand they turn the noise of the moniter off. I would understand that I needed more drugs. And I would prepare myself with the knowledge that I wouldn't be able to take care of the new little baby that first 12 hours so well so I would have an advocate who did that for me. If the husband is burnt out, have your family or best friend sit in your room with the baby and you. This is of course if you don't want the baby to go to the nursery. This probably must be worked out in advance in writing to the hospital and doctors. They are very security tight with newborns, thank god. Most of all, try this: Eat three cans of spinach. This is a natural stimulater of the fake potacin (sp?). Or mustard greens or chinese greens. I did the day I thought I was in labor and it kick started it right up, wish I would have kept on eating it. Doctors these days find induced and ceasaran labor more convient. However, there is a flip side. You don't want any medical complications and the I believe the water starts to dry up a bit after 2 weeks late. You could have daily ultrasounds or something to see if baby and mommy are ok and until there is signs that something is awry refuse? It is a sticky point and a medical one. I urge you to research away on google the next few nights.

I am NOT A DOCTOR OR NURSE. I am giving you my advice from my experience and research only.


My second daughter was induced when she was 10 days overdue. My OB felt strongly that late children needed to come out. I went in to Alta Bates around 8 am and was put on a slow drip of pitocin. It didn't take a long time to get a dose, so every hour my husband and I walked around the neighborhood to get away from the hospital. Then I would go back for more drugs and fetal monitoring. I didn't feel any contractions until 5 PM and then they came on very fast and very strong and my daughter was out by 6 PM. I was overwhelmed by an urge to push but it didn't hurt more than my first delivery. My daughter had mild distress when she was born, but rebounded quickly.

I would have prefered not to have been induced, but it wasn't awful. It's important to remember that the most important outcome is a healthy baby. Frances

My first child was three weeks early and a dream delivery save for a nasty frontal tear. My second and third were both inductions, one six days after my due date, the other the day after. My first induced labor started around 6:30 AM and my son was born at 3:17 PM, my second was started around 7AM and he was born around 1:37 PM. During both induction experiences I was able to get up and walk around the hospital (Alta Bates), including going out to the rooftop garden, which is very pretty. The IV cart you must drag with you everywhere is a little cumbersome and they do come looking for you if you are gone too long, but you basically have a great deal of freedom. I didn't find that the labor with induction was ''worse'' but more a feeling that I had skipped the early labor with which you ''ramp up'' to the more intense labor closer to delivery. I guess it would be a bit like taking pain medication for the early labor and letting it wear off around transition. I didn't take any pain meds during any of my boys' births, and I really feel like the pain of labor is the pain of labor. One technique I really liked and used a lot through all three is visualizing what the labor was actually doing (ie the contractions are pushing the baby down, and widening the opening in the pelvis, so I would close my eyes and think of my body opening and pushing the baby down). This worked equally well with the natural birth and the induced. One BIG drawback with induction is that once you start the induction you can't eat anything, so rather than sitting around home snacking through early labor you're 12 hours with only clear fluids. The second induction I got smart, ate a high protein meal late the night before and actually ate a yogurt on the way to the hospital. At least that way I had some stored feul for the work ahead. Ask for whatever GREAT food the hospital provides, or send out for something you're dying to eat, you'll be starving as soon as you settle into your elation/baby love. Oh, and if your insurance doesn't provide for a private room I highly suggest paying the extra for the is SOOOOO nice after birthing a baby in a roomful of medical personnel to be all in your own space and basically able to strip naked, take a shower and wander around your own private room when they unstrap the IV!

Good luck! Karin

I had an induction at 42 weeks minus 3 days with my first child. I was required to have the monitor on at all times. Several times I attempted to move postions but the monitor could not pick up the heart tones and so I had to remain in an uncomfortable position. I think most hospitals are like that, but as long as the baby is showing toleration of the pitocin, the nurses are usually pretty willing to allow a break every now and then, so you can get in the shower for example. I'm a doula and have had several clients go unmedicated with pitocin inductions. The key is to take it S-L-O-W. The protocol for many hospitals is to increase the rate of pitocin every 30 minutes (or 15 minutes) until you get to a nice pattern of contractions every 3 minutes. However, there's no saying you *have* to do that. You should be able to ask that the staff increase the pitocin every hour, or 45 minutes or so. It can be hard to keep yourself in control if someone else is doing the upping of the dosages -- both physiologically and psychologically, if you know what I mean.

Another thing to keep in mind is that vaginal exams before labor really don't tell you much of anything. They don't tell you if you're going to go into labor tomorrow, the next day, or the next week. The worst thing they do is increase your risk of infection becuase with each vaginal exam you are introducing new bacteria into your vagina. Infections and bacteria can weaken the amniotic sac and can cause an early rupture of the bag.

A great book to read is Henci Goer's _The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth_. It gives research backing up or refuting certain claims by doctors.

At this point the best thing to do is to just allow your body and your baby to follow its course. Discuss with your doctor what your options are. What happens if you do not go into labor by 41 weeks? By 42 weeks? No doubt, pitocin induction is hard. ''Natural'' labor is hard, too, by the way! However, you're still only 40 weeks! Most first-timers go overdue. There are lots of other things you can do to spend the next few weeks: sex, acupuncture, sex, acupressure, walking, sex, massage, walking, chiropractic, sex, herbs, etc. As a last resort you can take castor oil but that is DEFINITELY last resort LOL.

Best of luck to you! Hang in there, you will not be pregnant forever!


I do not mean to scare you, but my experience with induction (pitocin) was that it was VERY painful. The anethesiologist was unavailable when I wanted an epidural and I sobbed and screamed for hours before getting any relief. So my advice is this: be sure (unless you have prepared for a natural childbirth) that the anethesiologist will be available BEFORE you let them give you pitocin. Make your wishes known in no uncertain terms, i.e., you may give me pitocin so long as I can also get an epidural. That's my 2 cents. I honestly thought I could endure the pain but it was far beyond what I'd imagined.

another induced mom

There are a lot of strong feelings out there about the subject of labor and birthing, and sometimes those feelings take on a moral component - that there is only one ''right'' way to do it. I think you should do it in a way you feel most comfortable. Induction does start things out as more ''medicalized'', makes the labor go more quickly, and might increase your chances of requesting an epidural (although not necessarily). If that does not sound like the birth experience you want, than you should discuss those concerns with your OB or midwife. (Of course, if the baby goes past due and there isn't enough amniotic fluid or some distress is detected, there will probably be a medical decision that will (rightly) trump any previous thoughts on what kind of birth experience you wanted.) Personally, after doing it both ways, I see validity to both the natural method and the induced/epidural method. I had beautiful, healthy babies both ways, and so have no complaints whatsoever. But if I were to have a 3rd (which I'm not!) I would have no problem being induced and would definitely go for the epidural again. Just keep your eye on the ultimate result - you are going to be a mom no matter what birth method you choose! Best of luck and congratulations!

Swimming against the tide in Berkeley

I recently gave birth to my second daughter at Alta Bates. Because my first birthing experience was very quick (20 minutes of pushing), and because I was already 3 centimeters dilated at 37 weeks, I was given the option of being induced at 38 weeks. I opted to be induced so that I wouldn't be caught off guard at home alone with my toddler, because I knew my body would deliver that week anyways, and because I was so incredably sleep deprived -averaging 2 -3 hours a sleep each night for the last half of my pregnancy. My doctor also felt that I would have gone into labor so quickly at home that I would not have been able to control the pushing.

At Alta Bates I checked in at 8:00, had my water broken, and walked the halls. I was still only 3 centimeters. At noon I was given potosin (sorry - can't spell) and sent to walk the halls some more. At three o'clock I was still only 3 centimeters, asked for an epidural, and at four the nurse checked the fetal monitor and saw the babies head...I gave birth after only 5 minutes of pushing.

The idea of hanging around the hospital, waiting to have a baby, seemed crazy to me. I had thought I'd rather be at home, let things happen naturally, and head to the hospital once my contractions were close. But my husband and I actually enjoyed having a day to ourselves to mentally prepare for how our life was about to change (and it was nice to have a break from the toddler- walking the halls was easier than chasing her around!).

If I decide to have a third child, and if my body is ''ripe'' early again, I will strongly consider being induced. Most people I've talked to had a very positive, fairly painless experience. I only know of one friend who was induced at 42 weeks and found it painful. With her second pregnancy she waited to go naturally and still had a very long and difficult time. Maybe it just depends on your body. Who knows?

I know quite a few people who think the world of Dr. Foley. I hope my rambling helps- best of luck-

I sympathize with your situation and would encourage you to keep induction in perspective. You need to do what is best for your baby. My son was 10 days late and I had to go to the hospital for tests--likely the same tests you're having on Monday. One of them was off, and I was sent upstairs and admitted, and very, very sad. You will probably have a stress test and an ultrasound to see how much amniotic fluid you have left. They need to make sure your placenta is holding up. If both tests come out okay and you are feeling good, you should stick by your guns and not be induced.

If you DO have to be induced, it's really important to be clear about your desires at the outset. Tell the nurse your desire to try and deliver without pain meds and ask them to try using the lowest amount of pitocin and see what happens. This worked well for me. Though the contractions were really strong--too strong to walk around--my labor went fast enough that I made it without an epidural. (It was intense, though, just ask my husband.) Six hours later out popped my son and it was all worth it.

One thing my family doc recommended to start labor was accupuncture. You might want to check that out to get things going naturally. Good luck! anon

I was induced at 40 weeks, and wasn't even dilated a full cm -- supposedly my amniotic fluid had gotten too low and we couldn't safely wait any longer (though the tech and my doc disagreed on this, my doc insisted). We weren't prepared for this complication (who is, I guess), in fact we thought we'd go late since it was my first and had all sorts of activities planned for the last week or two. So we were pretty surprised when we had to go in and be induced, despite my efforts to get things started with acupuncture and massage. I won't lie, it wasn't fun. Everyone is different and I don't know how they'll treat you, of course, but I was strapped to monitors and in bed the entire time (they let me go to the bathroom oh so briefly) and couldn't walk which was so frustrating since I had heard so much about walking to break the water and start labor, etc. At one point I snuck out of bed with monitors still on and sat on an exercise ball for a while just to have a break and try to keep active. They started and increased the pitocin from Friday afternoon on into the night, wanted to break the water Sat morning but we talked them into letting us go longer, did that and still no appreciable progress, maxed out on pitocin all Sunday and by that night we had to call it quits, my body was just not ready despite the fluid level dropping and all the forced labor. Ironically, they let me go so long because my daughter did great in utero and didn't have any heartbeat distress, though labor could have been hindered by having the monitors on to show that very thing. Ha!

What I try to take away from this less than desirable experience was that at least I got to experience labor at all. And I really value knowing what contractions feel like, honestly, glad to not have had an emergency csection. I did not have any pain medication for the labor part, but of course an epidural for the operation (a different topic, the AB docs were absolutely great). Anyway, here's what HELPED me: my husband being with me, of course, as well as our wonderful doula who massaged me and supported me the entire time, music (bring lots of extra batteries since you can't plug into the wall outlet), and inspiring pictures tacked up right where I could see them -- all so comforting to have in the face of all the technology at the hospital. I also loved not knowing the baby's gender until they flew her by me after the section; in a strange way it was one of the few things I had control over...the surprise. I snuck some food at first since it was so many days (and they won't let you eat in the hospital obviously), but by the third day didn't want to eat, though I also took some gatorade to keep energy up. Some advice: I don't know if they are still doing this, but if they ask you every hour to rate your pain on a scale of one to ten, just refuse to do it (unless you want to of course). This questioning was apparently a result of some lawsuit, but I found it impossible to answer, and irritating besides, since I had not yet felt the worst pain I would feel and had no way to create the 10 on the scale. So just say no, if necessary. Similarly, during recovery, don't let people in your room unless they absolutely have to be there. I could not get any sleep during the three days I ''recovered''; after half-hourly assaults, we hung a sign on the door and STILL were bothered by people just walking in (not always nurses, people for the baby pictures and stuff). Could have done without that part, especially at $250/night.

To sum up, It may sound trite, but at some point I did have to give away my hopes for natural labor, vaginal birth etc. and give in to the process. This was certainly helped by how well the baby did and turned out to be. I'm sure you'll be fine, don't worry. Think about how great it's going to be when you get to hold that baby in your arms and finally see its face!! So soon now! Think about the little tiny feet, the big grey newborn eyes, that fabulous smell they have. The wonderful crazy stuff is just about to start...Congrats and good luck.

Grateful mama

I was induced because my water broke but real contractions never started. I was allowed to walk around with a little cart for the IV bag (only had to lie down occasionally for fetal monitoring \x96 which wasn\x92t continuous).

I did use a small amount of pain relieving drugs, and ended up have an epidural \x96 a blessed relief! Although after that you do have to lie down. My baby was born pretty quickly after the epidural \x96 and I could push just fine even though I had heard it was sometimes harder to push after the epidural.

I think the reason that inductions are thought of as unpleasant is that, from the very beginning, the medication is adjusted so you have your contractions 2 minutes or so apart (rather than starting at 8-10 minutes apart and slowly building up). Even for a fairly short labor (mine was about 9 hours), that gets exhausting. But I got through it, and in retrospect I don\x92t think it was that big a deal. I have heard more frightening tales from women who had entirely natural labors \x96 and of course women with natural labors who had an easier time, too. I think it's a case of what happens, happens.


Remember, at the end of the ordeal, you'll have your beautiful baby! Stay relaxed and just look forward to meeting your precious one. I had an induced labor in May, also my first child. I too was very upset when the doctor broke the news. I went to Alta Bates for fetal monitoring 3 weeks before my due date because things didn't feel right, and was induced that nite. I was scared, but in the end, all was fine! They used Cervadil and Pitosin (probably spelled wrong). I did have to stay hooked up to the monitor and an IV, except for bathroom trips. That meant no hot bath for contraction relief, and spending most of the time on the bed. When you're pushing, have them get out the push bar that fits onto the bed so you can be up on your knees. You won't have to lie on your back like the olden days! My contractions were Very intense, but I wouldn't know if they hurt more than they do in any other labor. You may have heard by now that first time labors are often longer? Well, the iduction may spare you 10 or 12 hours of misery---I labored for 8, with NO epidural. Alta Bates' staff is wonderful and caring, and if you have a doula there with you, that will help a lot. This won't be the labor/childbirth experience you envisioned, but hey, isn't that something we're not able to really plan? We just don't know how that baby is going to come into the world. Good luck. You will do fine, and you'll love your baby! anon

Dear Freaking out first time mommy,

Relax! Being induced isn't the end of the world! I was induced (my water broke at 41 weeks and then nothing, no contractions) and happened to have a bad reaction to the Pitocin and a sadistic nurse who didn't reduce the amount in the drip (I didn't know I could ask her to - keep this in mind just in case!).

The problem with the Pitocin was that I went from no labor to active labor in about 1/2 an hour. I'd sent my husband home since it looked like a long road ahead and I wanted him to get sleep, then after he left the nurse cranked up the dosage b/c I wasn't progressing fast enough for her and BOOM! Hard contractions every 2 minutes, lasting a minute each. Yuck. It's not that it's that different from 'normal' labor, it's just that I didn't get to ease into it gradually. You're limited by the IV (the fetal monitor was just an external belt) but you can move from side to side and get up to visit the bathroom, probably walk around (although I wasn't up for it)but I don't think you could shower or do a water-birth. I was at Alta Bates, btw.

Needless to say, I requested an epidural as soon as I thought of it and the misery was gone within seconds. It wasn't the delivery I had envisioned, but I also didn't buy into all the epidural-is-for-wimps-and-bad-moms stuff they were preaching in the childbirth classes either. Also, the epidural really sped up the dilating process since my body wasn't wasting energy fighting against the pain. It had taken 10 hours to get to 3cm, and then took 9 hours more(pain free!)to get from 3 to 10 cm. During this time I was able to have lots of family in the room with me, laughing, joking, telling stories, etc. and it is now one of my happiest memories.

By the way, I have a friend who opted to be induced for her second child (same reasons as you) and was FINE, no bad reaction, easy short birth. It just depends on your individual reaction to the drug. I'm due in 4 weeks and would have no qualms about being induced again since I know the epidural is there if things get unbearable.

Good luck, you can do it! -Ready to do it again

My first thought on reading your post is that you shouldn''t worry too much yet. Most babies are late (whatever that means--they come when they are ready). After 2 uninduced labors, my third labor was induced because my waters had broken and labor had not really set in after 12 hours. We did it to avoid antibiotics which are given automatically after 18 hours. Anyway, it was very intense and very fast. I think in my case labor was happening on its own, just not very strongly and the pitocin just intensified it. I didn't use an epidural, but I had already had 2 unmedicated labors so I knew how to keep on top of this induced labor. I was able to get up and move around at first, but once the labor kicked in full force I didn't even want to get up! Hope this helps and good luck with your labor and delivery, however it happens. Sara

I had my labor induced for my second child at Alta Bates (41 1/2 wks). I received the IV at around 8am and I had my baby at 1:04pm. You are not forced to lay down all the time though you will have an IV and monitor on. You will have the option of pain relief. I chose not to have any and my contractions became so strong at the end I wish I would have, but it was to late. I would never want to be induced again without pain medicine. I had my first child on time,no medicine, and that was alot easier. You have to completely judge for yourself if you can handle the pain. No matter what you have a beatiful child to look forward to. Take care. Previously Induced

My labor was induced 25 years ago and I dont recommend it unless it is medically necessary. The labor was my second and it was done for the convience of the doctor. Everything that happened in my first labor (that was 6 hours) happened in a compressed 2 hours. It was fast, intense and the baby was in distress when she was born. I think most doctors will wait till 41 1/2 weeks and you are starting to what's the rush?

There is a good book, Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn The Complete Guide by Simkin, Whalley, Keppler that has suggestions and natural ways to help induce labor..non-medical and non- drug..such as walking, acupressure, orgasm, and other ideas. It is best to read it because there too many details to list here. All the best. Ann

I completely empathize with you. I was in your situation just 6 mos. ago. Like you, it never crossed my mind that I might be induced until my due date came and went. I tried everything I had ever heard of to get that baby moving, but no luck. Finally I let the Dr. induce me 10 days after my due date because I couldn't stand the anticipation and crushing disappointment every contraction-less evening. Still, I was petrified and upset that I wouldn't get to experience the excitement of early labor, my water breaking, etc.

Now for the good news. Despite a remarkably unromantic arrival at the hospital, much of my labor progressed the way I had hoped. Yes, the Pitocin was painful. But once it kicked in, it really did the job. My baby was delivered 4.5 hours after they started the Pitocin drip. As a matter of fact, I went from 5 to 10 cm. in 20 minutes! So despite being strapped down and wiggling around on the table I was able to have a natural childbirth -- no epidural or other painkillers. Not being able to walk around is the worst part of it. A useful trick is to tell the nurse that you need to use the restroom. Then he/she will unstrap you and hopefully the vertical time will speed things up.

Good luck & try not to let the induction get you down. Remember that in the end, you will have a beautiful baby to cherish! anon

Hi, my doctor is also Foley and I was induced three weeks ago. I was also very shaken up, especially given the fact that it was an emergency induction and I had roughly two hours to ''prepare'' for it. I would be happy to have a conversation about it if you think it would be helpful. You can give me call if you want. Julia

I was also really scared about being induced, until it happened and it was fine! Please try not to worry too much, it will be ok. I had my baby earlier this year at Alta Bates. I had to be induced because my water broke, but then I didn't go into labor on my own. Here's how it worked for me: While I was waiting to be induced (to see if my labor started naturally) I was in a delivery room, with a fetal monitor strapped on my belly. I could take the fetal montior off to go to the bathroom or walk around a bit. Then, the induction was started by a nurse. The nurse I had seemed to be very skilled. She put an IV in my arm, and then started me on the lowest possible dose of pitocin. (Ask for a low dose, if they don't tell you that's what they are doing). At first I felt nothing, then within about an hour, my contractions started. My whole labor and delivery lasted 14 hours, from the time the pitocin was started until I had my sweet baby girl. During the first few hours, before the contractions got strong, I took walks around in the hallways, and in the garden in the maternity ward. I had to bring the pole with the IV bag with me, but I didn't have to remain attached to the fetal monitor, I just put it back on when I got back to the room. Later, when I was laboring hard, I was still able to stand up, take a shower, sit on the toilet, or do whatever I needed to do to handle the contractions. The nurses continued to monitor the pitocin dosage and turn it up or down as needed, to keep my contractions from becoming too strong. In the last couple of hours, I think they turned the pitocin off altogether, because my contractions were happening without any help needed. My overall impression was that my labor was neither harder nor more painful than the typical labor of someone who is not induced. I did it without an epidural. I did have some pain medication in my IV just before, and during, transition. I had a doula there to help me, which was extremely reassuring. Overall, I have to say that even though it was really hard, I loved the process of giving birth, (as well as the outcome,of course) and the induction really didn't interfere much with my experience. Good luck! anon.

To answer your questions about being induced, in case that is what will need to happen in your case: Yes, I was induced for my daughter's birth. No, I didn't want it either, but I was trying to have a VBAC, am quite small, and to have higher chances of a succesful VBAC my doctor didn't want me to go more than about 10 days over my due date. I was with the same medical group as you. I went in to the hospital early in the morning, I believe about 7:30 am, and the baby was born at 7:40 pm. They did a ''slow'' induction (low levels of medicine) as I had had a C-section before. I tried to have a natural birth, had a doula present and all, and worked with the contractions, but after about 1 hour of very intense ones, I could not see myself going for several more hours, and opted for an epidural (which I never thought I would ask for). I did hear that it is very difficult to work with contractions when you are induced because they come on strong and hard. The epidural gave incredible relief and I rested and almost slept, visited with my older daughter and chatted on the phone!! Had to take back all the negative thoughts I had had about women using pain medication during labor! I was able to walk around during early labor with the IV attached to get the contractions going, but once they were in full swing I stayed in my room, on the birthing ball. I couldn't have walked anywhere anyway. I did need continuous monitoring, but did not need to lie down, until the epidural. When I was ready to push the heart beat of my baby went down dangerously and a vacuum was used for her birth. I felt very bad about having to make that decision, but it seemed pretty clear, that I wanted a healthy baby more than another unwanted intervention. She came out in 2 or 3 pushes and was (and is) fine! Yes, I too had hoped for a natural birth, but in the end, I am ok with how it all happened and felt well supported by my doctor and was fine at the hospital. I hope all works out best for you, and just know that you are doing the very best with the options you have. Yvonne

My son ended up 2 weeks late, so induction was necessary. I was disappointed that my body couldn't ''do it'' on its own, but induction was neccessary, as Michael was perfectly happy in my womb. I imagine every woman's body reaccts differently to induction.

I was very firm with my doctor that I wanted to use as little medication as possible, as the labor contractions are stronger are stronger when you have to take pitosin (sp?) It was actually not very painful at all. Once they had me on the pit, my contractions came along slowly and not too painfully, When I was at 5cm the DR broke my water, and about 102 minutes later, my son was born (under 15 minutes of strenuous pushing) I took no pain medication and just focused on breathing.. Of course, I'm sure every woman has a different experience. I'm sure it is hard to predict how your body will react to the drugs used.

Induction isn't something I planned on. I was disappointed that I had to walk into Alta-Bates with my pillow and suitcase, but at least it was organized. My husband and I knew that when we left the house, we'd be coming back with our little boy. I wish you the best. Your induction experience may run smoothly. anon

this may be coming too late but I thought I'd respond about your concerns regarding labor induction. First, what medical reason has your OB given you for the induction? If there is not a clear medical reason for soing so ( and not just to prevent a bigger baby) it may not really be necessary to begin inducing before you are really at 42 weeks gestation. It is at that point that statistics show a greater likelihood of problems caused by going post due and technically you are not post due until then anyway. Second, do take the time to at least call your practitioner or see them before coming in for the induction to ask all the questions you may have. Even if it doesn't change your mind about the procedure, you will have peace of mind when you do go in. Third, how the induction goes depends somewhat on the condition of your cervix beforehand, the position of your baby and what procedure used. If your cervix is not ''ripe'' (soft and squishy), a prostaglandin gel may be applied to soften it first before giving you medication to start contractions. One way to help soften a cervix yourself or rather with the help of a friend! is to have sex since semen has natural prostaglandins in it and your own orgasms (however fun or unfun sex may sound right now) will also help stimulate the uterus. If your baby is head down low in your pelvis, zero station or below, any medication will be more effective since your baby's head will act in conjunction with the contractions to further dilate the cervix. If not, it may not be effective. I have seen many women induced with Pitocin for many days with no effect because their babies were just not low enough yet. Third, are they talking about using Pitocin to stimulate contractions or Cytotec? Pitocins is a synthetic form of Oxytocin used to stimulate contractions. It is given through an IV at a low dose to begin with and then turned up in increments until a good contraction pattern is established. It is usually effective if both of the above are in shape (ripe cervix and low baby). Having Pitocin usually requires continuous fetal monitoring using the external monitor in the hospital since it tends to cause stronger and longer contractions than your own labor would give you so early on and they like to see how the baby is responding so that any modifications in dosage or your position can be made. The biggest issue then is your mobility (or lack of it) due to the restriciton of the monitors, unfortunately, Alta Bates does not have telemetry (monitors that you can wear around your neck and move with). In addition, since the contractions are much stronger earlier than you may be prepared for, women often ask for pain medication earlier than they expected so it is wise to consider all your options ahead of time. Sometimes, using Pitocin is the beginning of a snowballing effect of interventions but I believe that the more questions you ask before each procedure will help stop that from happening. Don't be afraid to keep asking until you feel sure you understand the full benefits and risks of each procedure before agreeing to it. Generally speaking, everything offered to you is a reccommendation unless it is truly a medical emergency and the staff, particularly the nurses will be happy to explain it all to you ahead of time if you ask in a positive way. Cytotec is a pill ( it is usually cut in haf or even thirds) placed into the cervix to ripen the cervix and cause dilation at the same time. It is an ulcer medication that is being used for this purpose without the approval of the FDA and has not had any broad or long term studies to show its effectiveness verses its negative side effects as yet (that I am aware of). it isan extremely inexpensive medication and is being used more and more often but if it were me, i would be very cautious about using it. You could certainly do an internet search about it. So, the final note is to trust your body and your baby in this process and remember that induction is like picking fruit from a tree, it it's not ripe, it's not coming and may not be worth all the effort in the end! Forgive the length of this message and good luck! laura

It sounds like your dr. is not terribly sensitive to just assume that if you're not ready on your due date that you'll need to be induced. It is very likely that you will go into labor on your own in the next week or so. However, I was induced with my first baby 10 days after my due date and while it was no picnic it is nothing to be afraid of. In my case they decided to induce because my amniotic fluid was low, but they probably would have induced at 14 days past my due date anyway. Except for the fact that I was induced and late, the labor and delivery went very well. My labor was only 5 hours, but the contractions were very strong and only 2 min apart from the beginning. I was in bed for all of it except to go to the bathroom, but with contractions that close together I didn't want to be walking around anyway. I didn't end up getting an epidural because I wanted to see how long I could do without, and by the time I asked for one it was ''too late'' (policies on that may differ from place to place), so if you want an epidural be sure to make your desires known early.

By the way, I just had my second baby on Monday and my experience was totally different: I was only one cm dilated the day before my due date, but I did go into labor on my own the day after my due date and went in to the hospital at midnight. After laboring all night (with contractions very strong, but not as close together as when I was induced) I did get an epidural and my baby was born about 3 hours later.

Having had two very different kinds of experience I have to say that there are pros and cons to each. If I were you, I would schedule the induction for 2 weeks after the due date and hope I went into labor on my own before that. Yes, induced labor is painful, but so is ''regular'' labor. I'm happy I was able to do it without an epidural the first time, but I was very happy to be able to have an epidural the second time. Both times I had about 40-45 minutes of pushing. Both births were at Summit.

Good luck! I'm sure your experience will be great however it works out. There are always things that we wish were a little different, but as long as baby and mommy are healthy those things don 't matter. All the best! Frances

I was very, very interested to read the recent postings on labor induction as I just experienced induction 3 months ago with my first baby. I was not certain I should share my experience since it isn't exactly the birth story any soon-to- be Mom dreams of, but, on the other hand, I know that when I was pregnant, I was interested in all kinds of experiences. Actually, when reading ''Grateful Mama'''s post, I felt like I was reading a description of my own experience down to the notes on the door begging for a moment of peace!! (Which, uh, never happened!) So, here goes...I was scheduled to be induced on a Friday morning at 7am, 15 days past my due date. My husband called the hospital all day asking when we should/could come in. Finally, after what felt like forever, my husband dragged his emotionally-drained wife (uh, me) to the hospital at about 4pm. And we came back home around 9pm! The labor ward was ''too busy''. YUK! Two days later, at 17 days past due, we went back to the hospital. They started induction that morning (which consisted of numerous interventions that I won't get into) and I had a c-section 36 hours later. During the induction, I couldn't have any kind of cervical gel that would help ripen my cervix or possibly jump start my labor because I had been having very strong contractions for about 3 weeks. Anyway, the induction, constant, painful contractions, and surgery were the easy part. It was the rest of the hospital stay that made me crazy. Not a moment of peace. Every time that my husband or I would get the baby to sleep and nod off ourselves, someone would be taking my temperature or waking the baby for something or other. I did ask them to come back later for such things, but no luck. My husband stayed with me the whole time. He was amazing. We were so worn out from the whole experience that we didn't even pick up the phone to let anyone know the baby was born until we got home. OK, so you asked about induction, but got a little bit more (I'd always heard how relaxing the hospital stay is, I wish I knew better and wasn't expecting that). Just remember that no matter what kind of experience you have, as soon as labor starts naturally or as soon as you are induced, you know that you are so close to meeting the absolute LOVE OF YOUR LIFE!! And anything that you go through is TOTALLY 100% WORTH IT!!! Good luck!!! (OH, PS- I've found that the drs and nurses on the labor and delivery ward are very kind, caring, and almost as excited to meet your baby as you are.) Another Grateful Mama

The hospital's policy of inducing labor at 41 weeks

Dec 2002

I am giving birth next month at CPMC (California Pacific Medical Center in SF) and just heard that they have a policy of inducing labor at 41 weeks, which apparently my doctor follows. We got this news from the nurse practitioner and haven't actually had a chance to talk to the OB directly about it yet. Everything I have read suggests labor is usually induced at (or around) 42 weeks. I generally feel confident that CPMC is a good place to be having a baby and wonder if there is some new information that I don't know about (the nurse practitioner said something about placental degeneration). I can't help but wonder if it's just some kind of malpractice insurance for them. In general, when one declines recommended treatment, does one sign something relieving them (the hospital/OB) of responsibility? We are starting to think about our birth plan and I wonder what happens if we object to their protocol. Patty

I wouldn't worry about it too much. At 41 weeks, you are going to be very very happy that you don't have to wait another whole week!! -another mom

Hi, I felt sad to read that inducing labor has become a routine procedure. One has to ask why this is happening. Nevertheless, I would like to refer you to some articles on the drugs used to induce.

First of all- they cannot force you to induce. The ball is 100% in your court, though if you decide to wait a week or two, expect much resistance. Even bullying...

When I had my baby, my doctor was trying to convince me to schedule a c-section becuase of some issues that I have... I did my homework, I knew that it wasn't necessary. She went as far as to yell and scream at me. Then told me that I was going to kill my baby. I let them iduce to back them off. The induction failed, she just wasn't ready... I ended up with a c-section. They were trying to convince me that my baby was too big... My huge 8 pounder didn't seem too big ;-)

Bottom line- listen to you gut... You could just always avoid your doctor for a week. REmember- they need to look proactive, just in case. Plus, and induction, or c-section isn't a bad thing for them either. Then again, it's not their middle being cut open! Rae

Get a second opinion and get some thorough ultrasounds to check placental sufficiency. Because of the potential for increased fetal distress and interventions associated with inductions, I would insist upon no induction unless they could show me medical proof (not just my ''estimated due date'') that this baby needed to be born. CA

I went beyond 41 weeks with my pregnancy and my midwife had me go into the testing lab for non-stress tests twice a week to make sure the placenta was in good shape. I think I started this at about 40 weeks. So there is a way to tell how the placenta is functioning. I suggest you ask your doctor about such monitoring, if you want to decline the induction at 41 weeks. anon

The longer the pregnancy, the more aged the placenta is. An aging placenta becomes less useful and eventually fails to provide the needed oxygen and nutrients to the baby. 42 weeks is the customary cut-off for inducing labor. I was 41 1/2 weeks gestation and wanted to be induced because of the placenta. I was willing to forgo my ''vision'' of what labor and delivery would be, because I was concerned about the baby's health. Anonymous

Well, I am no expert, but I have done doula training, and I do know people that have had healthy, wonderful hospital births. One friend had her baby in June 12 days after her supposed due date-- no induction. Also, I thought it was actually at CPMC. So, I would say that the 41 week thing sounds absurd, and I agree with you-- it's a liability thing. There is no placental degeneration at that point. That is a point-blank lie. Have you discussed the details of your birth plan with your midwife or OB? Good luck. Allisong

Hi, I was induced at CPMC 7 days past my due date and it was so easy and not at all what I had imagined based on friends horror stories with forced labor. It was not terribly painful. I had an epideral early, took a nap and woke up to push. I am 10 weeks pregnant again and my doctor told me she would not let me go a day past my due date, My first baby was big and got stuck. I hope I get induced again so I do not have to experience ''going into labor'' in all its glory. It is a great place to have a baby. The staff is wonderful !!! cherie

I was 14 days past my due date and they talked me into being induced. My body was very resistent to the process, they had to give me a lot of pitocin. They had a difficult time breaking my water - it was just awful. Then when the contractions kicked in it was very fast and out of control. They had to race to get the epidural. After the epidural was in everything became a cake walk.

My baby was 6 lbs 10 oz and I don't believe for a second that I needed to be induced. I wasn't ready and I don't think my daughter was either. Listen to your own instinct, get a second opinion and watch out for people scheduling your birth around their needs! Suzy

I would agree with another writer, that you have 100% control, and should make a very well informed decision. In any case, do not let them give you a drug called cytotec! This drug is often used these days, but has not been officially approved by the FDA for use in labor induction. The risks, though not well documented, can be grave!!! It can lead to uterine rupture, and embolism (blood clot) that can kill both you and the baby. Here is a link to an article about what it did do one woman. Copy and paste into web addr:

Chinese Medicine can be used to induce labor, although acupuncturists are often at this point not allowed in hospitals here. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in this possibility, though. Rhoda

I was so relieved that my OB made no mention of induction at my 41 week appointment. I feared induction, as I know that one intervention often leads to many more.

Instead, she did a sonogram and noted that there was tons of amniotic fluid, which apparently indicated a healthy environment. (She may have used other indicators as well.) Then she had me make another appointment for 42 weeks. I had my baby (without induction) the next week - two days shy of exactly 42 weeks. He was born perfectly healthy, and my doula showed me the umbilical cord - a beautiful spiral of vibrant red and blue - and said it was one of the healthiest she'd ever seen. So, even at almost 42 weeks, my placenta was thriving. (I should also note that my due date was correct, as I knew the date of conception.)

This is not to say that pregnancy should never be induced, but instead that just because you've gone past the 40 week mark does not mean that the environment in the womb is unhealthy for the baby. Ask your doctors if they can use indicators other than your due date to determine whether induction is necessary. anonymous

Do non stress test and sonogram to measure the amount of your amnio fluid. Your baby is most likely be fine if you have enough fluid, and if your baby's heart responds well with his/ her movement and your contractions.

My doctor wanted me to induce my baby, but I said no because he seemed very healthy according to those tests I mentioned. It was good to have those information from tests to back up myself.

Good luck! Mika

After reading several posts about inducing labor, I wanted to tell my story as well:

With my first pregnancy, I went in for my 41 week check-up and fully expected to be told I had to wait another week before they would induce. I was elated when the doctor told me they would give it a try if I requested it. They used 2 applications of prostiglandin on my cervix and that jump started contractions. It was a very gentle and slow build up (unlike some of the horror stories I had heard of Pitocin IV drip induction) and after 26 hours, a healthy 8 lb. baby.

With my second pregnancy, I made an appt. to be induced at 41 weeks and asked my mother to take some time off work and fly up so she could be with me in the delivery room.

With that labor, they used cytotec to induce. I know this is controversial because some women have suffered ill effects and my labor was very fast (2 hours) but on the plus side, there were no drugs involved (unlike the first time) and I was only at the hospital for 24 hours. I was grateful to get home to my son (and introduce him to his baby sister) plus my mother saw her granddaughter come into the world. Both induction experiences were very positive for me. --Sharon