Induction or spontaneous labour – which is best?

From home birth to forceps delivery and induction of labour to emergency caesarean section, the variables for birth are manifold. In other words, no two births are the same and you should prepare yourself for all eventualities.

And, it may just be that the labour you’ve dreamed for yourself is not necessarily the ideal scenario for you or your baby – so go with the flow and let nature (or modern medicine) take its course.

Here, one mum tells us of her spontaneous labour experience compared with a pre-planned induction of labour.

Twelve days over and counting – let my waters break nooooooooooow!

Okay, it’s fairly common for pregnant women, particularly first timers, to be induced, but, with the best will in the world, I don’t think any woman welcomes the connotations of artificiality that induction of labour brings.

It smacks of being unable to finish the job, as if you got this far, but you were never really up to it, were you?

For many women who’ve watched countless TV and movie scenarios of broken waters flooding the aisle of a local supermarket and panicked trips through rush hour traffic as the heroine pants hard through painful contractions, the thought that you’ll just serenely walk into a labour ward and have a midwife start the whole thing off for you can seem like a massive let down.

We want the drama! We want the hullabaloo! Don’t we?

Well, let me tell you, as a veteran of both types of birth, I’d take induction any day.

The first time

Almost two weeks overdue and already booked in for induction, my first labour finally got underway spontaneously just before midnight on a Wednesday. I got up, timed my first contractions and then woke my partner. We went downstairs, made some tea (well you do, don’t you) and were shortly joined by my mum who had come to stay with us for the birth.

Gradually, very gradually, the contractions got longer and closer together. By 6am, I wanted to go into hospital.

To cut a very (and I mean VERY) long story short, at that point I was still in the earliest stage of early labour and it would not be until 11.59pm later that night that I would finally give birth to my baby boy. After 24 hours awake, I was exhausted and although everything went well, with no nasty complications, by the time my body was ready to push I was so tired that I needed help and had to have an episiotomy (I don’t recommend it).

And worst of all, because everything had been taking so long, I had to have my waters broken by a midwife anyway – so technically I was induced even though I had gone into spontaneous labour.

The second time

At eight days overdue, my midwife suggested I book in for an induction. Yeeeeeeeeees! Talk about take the pressure off. I was so relieved.

Two days later and with everything in the house ready and sorted, and no nasty midnight contractions, we took a drive to the labour unit and booked in at 9am on the dot. I changed, got into bed, read a magazine, had a snack, and then my lovely midwife, who’d looked after me my entire pregnancy and who would be with me the whole day on the unit, came to examine me.

“Oooh,” she said. “You’re all nice and squidgy. I’ve done a sweep but I’m not sure if it’ll do anything.”

She patted my leg, told me to wait a while and said she’d come back in an hour or so.

By the time she came back I was four centimetres dilated and she told us we needed to move to a delivery room.

This time, the birth was altogether calmer and quicker (which is quite typical and understandable for a second pregnancy), although, funnily enough, a lot more painful during final contractions and the pushing.

By 4.30 in the afternoon, I was sitting in the labour ward, eating chicken salad, nursing our daughter, and my partner was breaking the news to our son – he’d wanted a little brother.

And in my humble opinion

Birth is rarely the perfect vision we, as expectant mothers, perceive for ourselves. Labour is hard work (my third midwife of the day quipped this little nugget to me 23 hours into my first labour – I’ve never forgotten it!), and it’s messy and painful.

But it’s also wonderful, exhilarating and miraculous. I’d do it again in an instant – it’s just the nine months before and the 18 plus years afterwards which have stopped me having any more.

So, please don’t fear an induced labour – it can take the pressure off and give you the chance to prepare physically and mentally for labour.

Important – If you or your child are unwell you should seek medical advice from a professional – contact your GP or visit an A&E department in an emergency. While My BabyManual strives to provide dependable and trusted information on pregnancy and childcare 24/7 via our website pages, we cannot provide individual answers to specific healthcare questions.