- Breaking your waters. (Also known as releasing the water around baby)
If your cervix opens sufficiently, it is likely that the next step that you are offered will be to have your waters artificially broken. This involves the midwife inserting a hook device into your vagina and through your cervix to reach the membranes around your baby. The hook ruptures the membranes, and this allows your baby’s head to press more firmly on your cervix, which in turn may help it to trigger contractions. It is very unlikely you will feel the hook as it is passed up between the midwife’s fingers.
To do this, sometimes your midwife will ask you; when you are lying down, to pop your hands under your bottom to help tilt your pelvis and your cervix to make it easier. We would suggest that instead of this, you take a towel into hospital with you so you can roll it up and pop it under your bottom, this does exactly the same thing, plus you are not then lying on your own arms!
However, if you are having regular tightenings or surges after the first stage of the induction process, it may be worth considering if releasing the water around baby is something that needs to be done at this point. It may be worth chatting to your antenatal midwife to discuss these options so you feel more prepared on the day. More about this a bit further down in your choices.
If labour hasn’t started with these interventions, you will be offered a drug called Syntocinon which is given to you in a drip. Syntocinon is an artificial version of the hormone oxytocin which the body uses to create uterine tightenings.
In the UK this intervention will more likely happen in an obstetric ward, not a birth centre or a midwifery led unit.
Syntocinon is a drip that will go directly into your blood through your veins. This means that you will have to have a cannula (a thin plastic tube). Because they are putting something that is artificial into your body to work, you will now be monitored in more ways, more closely.
This will mean that you will be encouraged to have continuous monitoring of you and your baby. Baby’s heart will be monitored and so will the tightenings you are having.
This is likely to mean that you are attached to a machine, unless the hospital has a wireless monitor, however, you can still move around and we have developed several ways for you to work with, during a more medicalised birth.
Benefits and risks of induction
Each of these steps of induction has its own benefits and risks. For every form of induction other than a stretch and sweep it will be recommended that your baby’s heart is monitored, as each of them can cause your baby to become distressed, which may lead to the need to have a caesarean birth, or, if your cervix is fully opened, assistance with forceps or ventouse.
There are many benefits and risks of induction, far more than we can cover here, but you can read all about them in the AIMS book, The AIMS Guide to Induction of Labour”.