Are Inductions More Painful?

What every mother should know about the pain of inductions before they have one.

Statistics show that as many as 40% of mothers have their labors induced today. While inductions are convenient and allow mothers to select the provider for their birth, inductions are notorious for causing very strong and powerful contractions.

Here are several reasons why birth experts believe that inductions may indeed hurt more than contractions from spontaneous labor.

Monitors are uncomfortable

Because the use of pitocin for inductions can cause strong contractions, which in turn can affect the baby’s heart rate, mothers are required to have continuous electronic fetal monitoring (EFM). EFM limits the mother’s ability to move around and the belts used to detect the baby’s heart rate and mother’s contractions are strapped tightly to her abdomen. Both of these side-effects of EFM can add to the mother’s discomfort.

Contractions are closer and more intense sooner

Though there is no research per se that contractions themselves are actually more painful using pitocin, mothers who are induced often report that intense labor occurs much earlier than in normal labor. Pitocin causes contractions to be unnaturally close to each other. Not having enough rest in between contractions can make labor feel more painful. Intense contractions also occur much earlier for mothers being induced, sometimes even before her cervix is significantly dilated.

Pitocin is not initiated by the pituitary gland

Another fascinating fact about the mother’s own production of oxytocin is that it is secreted by the pituitary gland to stimulate contractions during normal labor. Oxytocin lowers the stress hormones and blood pressure as well as increases the mother’s ability to manage pain. Few people realize that oxytocin is also secreted during love-making as well as breastfeeding. It’s no wonder that oxytocin is called the “love hormone.” since it promotes relaxation and a sense of well-being.

Pitocin that is used in inductions comes directly into the mother’s bloodstream from an IV and does not cross the same blood-brain barrier as her body’s own oxytocin does. Therefore, pitocin does not provide the same sense of well-being or give her the same help in managing pain.

Because the hormones are initiated very differently in the mother’s body, it is very likely that contractions from a pitocin-induced labor are indeed more painful than those from a normal labor.

For more information about reasons for induction, read Labor Inductions Part 1. Be sure to visit Part II in the labor inductions series for questions to ask your provider about an induction.

Read more on reducing pain in Pain Relief Techniques for Labor.

Have you considered an induction? Did you have an induction? Share your opinions about whether or not you think it was more painful in the comments below