Posted: Jul 16, 2013 10:00 AM
Think getting induced means labor will start immediately? Think again. If your body isn't ready, it could be hours, even days before labor begins. Our doula shares ideas for how to pass the time before it's really "the time."

Labor induction means pitocin is administered through an IV drip to start labor. Pitocin is the artificial form of oxytocin, the hormone your body releases that causes uterine contractions. The dosage can be turned up or down until contractions get longer, stronger and closer together. However, scheduling a labor induction doesn't mean you'll show up to the hospital, get hooked up to pitocin and automatically start contracting.

Your body needs to be ready

If your cervix is ripe (soft), effaced (shortened and thinned out) and even dilated (opened) it may not take too long for pitocin to amp up contractions. However, if there's no change to your cervix, it usually means the waiting game is about to begin. Your doctor or midwife may apply prostaglandins to your cervix to help it ripen before starting pitocin.

How to pass the time

Watching the clock waiting for labor to begin and contractions to pick up can make even the most patient mom-to-be go a little nuts. So, pack some things to pass the time:

  • knitting projectDownload a season of your favorite TV show onto your tablet or smartphone. Sure, you may be asking for an epidural just a few episodes in, but you may finish the season before labor starts!
  • A good book
  • A knit or crochet project
  • Celebrity magazines
  • Travel size board games or cards

Mentally prepare and have patience

Expect labor induction to take time and if it goes faster than planned, it will be a bonus! Once your contractions become regular and labor is active — meaning your cervix is anywhere from four to seven centimeters dilated — patience will still be key.

As long as everything is uncomplicated with labor, and you and your baby are fine, your body will take the time it needs to labor.

Bottom Line^ Labor may be fast or slow, but when it's over, you'll hold your beautiful baby in your arms.

Read more about labor induction

Ways to induce labor
Don't shorten your baby's stay
Inducing labor: What you need to know