What my overdue baby taught me about my induction

Because everyone I know online is pregnant I have been hearing a lot about their labors.  Some were hospital births, some were at home, and many were even VBACs.  Luckily, most of my friends are pretty informed about pregnancy, labor, and delivery.  This meant that most of them waited for the baby to come when the baby was ready.  Many of these babies decided they wanted to wait until after their “due date.”

This is what I noticed.  These “overdue” babies gave their mamas a short labor.  All labors, whether they are an hour or 20, hurt.  If I were given a choice, I would rather have a relatively quick and intense labor like the one I had with my second son, than the 20 hour slow starting, induced labor of my first.

Everett was born at home at 41 weeks and 3 days.  My labor was 4 hours and 45 minutes including 20 minutes of pushing.

Friend A was 41 weeks and 3 days with her third baby (her second HBAC), and her labor was 6 hours.

Jill from Baby Rabies recently gave birth to her second baby at 41 weeks.  She walked into the hospital at a 7 and delivered 2 hours after checking in after an intense and fast labor. Her birth story.

We were all “overdue,” very large, uncomfortable, and ready to have a baby.  We waited a long time

One of my theories is that my babies need to bake longer than the “40 week” mark.  Every woman is different, every pregnancy is different.  Why is there so much importance placed on this magic 40 week mark?  The reason I say this is because of the differences I saw in my first son after birth compared to my second.

My first son was induced when I was 39 weeks 3 days.  To most pregnant people they would assume this is plenty of time to bake a baby.  My OB decided to induce me because I had Gestational Diabetes and was told going 1 day over 40 wasn’t an option (pshaw… wish I had known) and because at my growth scans they noticed my baby’s abdomen was measuring small (but consistently small, why worry?).  The day we went in for a follow up scan they told me to pack my bags and come in the next day because, and I quote, “the baby has baked long enough.”

I had a pitocin induced labor which took over 20 hours from start to finish.  I couldn’t take the humpback contractions and opted for the epidural.  To this day I am amazed I ended up with a vaginal birth now that I know the statistics for inductions and long labors.

Fletcher was 7 lbs 2 0z and 19.5 inches long.  He was coated with thick vernix.  Why do I mention this?  Typically, full term babies have already sloughed off most or all of their vernix.

A very cheesey newborn

Fletcher was very drowsy and we had an insanely difficult time with nursing.  He didn’t latch properly and would fall asleep at the breast in minutes.  Instead of cuddling my new baby I was forced to torture him to stay awake in order to eat.  I undressed him, flicked his feet, blew on his face, all to get food in his belly by order of the nurses.

He was also fairly small and rag dollish.  He became jaundiced but not severe enough to need lights.  He looked like a stick figure baby when I look back at photos.

In comparison, my “overdue” baby, Everett, was born at 41 weeks 3 days (2 full weeks more than Fletcher).  He weighed 8 lbs 8 oz and was 20.5 inches long.

He also had vernix, but a much lighter coating.

He was alert and ready to nurse.

He had the head control of a 1 month old and could lift his head off my chest at a few minutes old.

His latch was perfect (but he was tongue tied which we had clipped, more on that here)

He also slept great from day 1 (at night that is)

I am not saying every problem I had with my first son was related to him being born too early, nor am I saying every thing right with my second has to do with him being born overdue.  My boys both also had very different birth experiences.  Fletcher was induced, put through a long labor and a very long pushing phase (3 hours) and was born while I was on an Epidural.  Everett came when he was ready, he had a calm labor lasting less than 5 hours with a 20 minute push phase.  Part of their difference in labor is probably because second labors are typically faster as well, so I can’t blame everything on being induced.

My wish for all women is that they not have to even deal with the pressure to be induced.  With the staggering rate of C-Sections, babies born too soon thanks to being induced before the baby was ready (you can read a recent article in Time magazine to that effect, which is ironic since I wrote this a week ago, good timing!), and the high rate of Maternal deaths in the US, women need to educate themselves and possibly prepare to butt heads with their care provider.

I wasn’t exactly thrilled about being 41 weeks and 3 days pregnant but I trusted my body and my baby. I had a very routine (and easy) pregnancy other than my gestational diabetes, which was well under control.  My baby made a grand entrance into the world and kept us all anxiously waiting.  I’m so thankful for our supportive midwives and the internet for informing me that I am in charge of my body, not my OB GYN.

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  • nerdling

    thanks so much for sharing this. i’ll be ttc this summer, and i’m hoping all goes well enough for a natural home birth. your story gives me so much hope and inspiration! also on a side note: i grew up outside boston in the city of everett! i never really liked growing up there and (even though my dad’s still there and family in surrounding areas) i could never conceive of moving back BUT i’ve always, ALWAYS thought it would make such a nice name for son. kudos!

  • Christina

    Every birth is SO different. With my first child I went into labour naturally 9 days past my due. However, after ‘not progressing’ fast enough I was given pitocin which lead to many more interventions. It was exactly 36 hours from the time my water broke until my son was born and it was a miserable experience.

    My second child was induced at 39 weeks due to IUGR. I went from 1cm to him being born in 6 hours. I recovered from the delivery quickly and was pretty happy with the labour/delivery. However, it did seem that he was born too soon.

    With my 3rd child I went into labour 9 days after my due date after much coaching (ie sweeping membranes etc) from my midwives. Once the labour really started it was 8 hours until my son was born. I didn’t have as smooth recovery as with my second child but I would still avoid an induction at all costs.

    I think my ‘dates’ are totally off for me and that’s why my children ‘come late’. Next time I will just plan my children’s due date to be a week later than what the chart says. I think it’s important for women to understand the full implications of inductions- both the good and the bad.

  • Dee

    My doctor literally forced me to undergo through induction when I was overdue by 11 days based on his calculation, even though I had 35 days cycle. Ended up having all the procedures hospital has to offer including C-section. Now, I am having hard time in coming enclosure with whatever happened to me.

  • This story is AMAZING!!! My OB is pushing for an induction before 41 weeks and I told her NO! My First son was supposedly 17 days early, desipite me knowing they used a wrong LMP and gave me hell for him measuring 3 weeks ahead. My intution tells me he was 2 weeks late. He came in less than 3 hours start to finish, was alert and so robust! I will trust my body, my baby and let him come on his own, just like his brother did!

  • Jaefaa

    Thank you for the reassurance, I’m currently 10 days over due and growing tired of the inquiries as to when i will be induced… Fortunately we are having a home birth with some very understanding and supportive midwives.  They have assured me that things will progress naturally and all necessary precautions and tests are being done to ensure our baby and I am healthy.  Great article..

    • Anonymous

      I hope you have your baby soon, or have already delivered!

  • Clothmomm1

    The look on your face in the bottom photo is pure bliss.  I had a natural childbirth with my baby (she’s my first) in a birthing center- somehow I never felt that blissful feeling.  I was exhausted and just relieved to be done.  I am a little jealous of your 5 hour labor – mine was 14 hours.  I am so happy for you!

  • Clothmomm1

    The look on your face in the bottom photo is pure bliss.  I had a natural childbirth with my baby (she’s my first) in a birthing center- somehow I never felt that blissful feeling.  I was exhausted and just relieved to be done.  I am a little jealous of your 5 hour labor – mine was 14 hours.  I am so happy for you!

  • Grace

    Kim, I am IMPATIENTLY waiting for my little man to come out. He is due on the 23rd – in 2 days! I’ve seen my doctor and my midwife and they both said the same thing, “He’s sitting pretty in my tummy.” My worst fear is Induction. So far, his heartbeat is great and we are both fine. This is my first baby (after two miscarriages). After reading this blog of yours, it gave me a sense of relief and comfort. After what my husband and I went through to have a full term baby and after waiting for so long for a healthy pregnancy to happen — this little man will be worth the wait!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • BethanyO

    I am curious, how do you feel about the use of pitocin to progress labor when the woman’s water has broken but hours later is still not feeling contractions but once every hour?  That’s what happened with me, I had mild preeclampsia and my OB had started talking about inducing early. I didn’t want to be induced, but at the same time I did because I was feeling miserable all the time and my BP kept rising so we were due to go in to see my OB at 37 weeks 1 day and determine if I needed to be induced at that point, but my water broke at 3am (before my 9am appt). We went into the hospital and by 7 am I still had only felt a handful of contractions so they administered one dose of pitocin, contractions became regular at 8 am, strong at 10am and my DD was born at 1211 with only 7.5 minutes of pushing and zero pain meds. I don’t know if the pitocin was the sole reason for such a short labor (first baby), but I had an amazingly easy labor and clearly my baby and body were ready (being that my water broke on its own). I am just trying to research incase I have the same issues the next time around. Is it unsafe to wait too long for labor to progress once the water has broken?

  • Abbe

    The thick vernix may be related to oligohydramnios. And its a sign of maturity… not immaturity. A healthy amount of amniotic fluid contributes to the appearance of this white coating. I’m a sonographer and see this all the time…
    On another note, I feel going over due is fine as long as the appropriate antenatal testing is being done. I’ve seen too many fetal demises post dates. Their interval growth stops and the placenta gives out. Heartbreaking.

  • Jessi

    Wow that’s one cheezy newborn!

    Pretty cool that you had the same glasses when baby #2 came along.

    But seriously, this is a good post, thank you.

  • I just saw this today. I was induced 8 days after my “due” date. I NEVER want to be induced again. The pain was EXCRUCIATING after the Pitocin was started. I honestly believe my body was ready when I was induced. I did not have a single contraction my whole pregnancy until the car ride to the hospital-where they were every 15-20 minutes, then every 10-15 minutes waiting before I was taken back for my IV, and every 5 minutes before the Pitocin was even started. I often wish I had refused the induction then, but I did not and I can’t change it. Hopefully, I’ll learn from it though and make the best decision for me and my baby in the future.

  • Dawn

    I cringe when women tell me their doctors told them things like “you’re so ready” and “we need to get that baby out of you”!! If they were so ready they’d be in labour and they can get that baby out themselves, thank you very much!

    I was induced first time round and went to the hospital fully dialated second time round cause the contractions felt so “different” I had no idea how far I’d progressed. No time for meds, did it all myself and felt so empowered. Since then it’s been midwives and natural births all the way.

  • tammy

    I am a true believer. No meds produces better outcomes with baby & recovery for mom. Had baby #4 this past weekend. Meds admistered too late to go through system and out came a baby, ready to latch, sleeps perfectly through night, etc. I had 2 babies on meds & without all the outcomes listed above. I was 40 weeks 4 days.

  • Julia

    I’m torn right now! I’m 41 weeks and 4 days and they have scheduled me to induce tomorrow. I’ve pushed them off several times and they won’t let me put it off anymore. I guess I could just not show up. This is my first baby and they checked today…I’m not dialated at all. They couldn’t even get inside to sweep the membranes if they wanted to. I’m closed up tight. I want to wait as long as possible but the doctors (I’ve seen three at the same practice) still won’t let me go past 42 weeks. What should I do?!?