Nearly 1/4 of all American babies are born after a medical induction. Reasons for induction span a whole spectrum and include elective and medically necessary circumstances. If you are facing a medical inducted delivery I strongly recommend discussing your options with you care provider. Though there are plenty of ways to augment labor, the most medically common way is through the drug called Pitocin. If you and your doctor decide that Pitocin is the right method for you, this is what your labor might be like...
First, you'll probably wait. Your doctor will call the hospital ahead of time so they can have a room ready for you but this doesn't guarantee a speedy induction and you may still wait to be admitted. Scheduled births are less urgent than spontaneous ones and if there is already a hospital full of laboring mamas you will wait. You could even be sent home, though this is rare. Once you are checked in you might need to wait for the drugs to be delivered/administered. It all depends on how busy the hospital is and how staffed they are.
Next, you'll get an IV. Pitocin is given through an IV line that is usually inserted into the back of your hand. Your nurse will give you a choice of which hand to use. Typically moms prefer their non-dominant hand but also take into consideration which side of the bathroom the tub or shower is on. If you want to spend time in there you'll have to keep that hand out of the water, which can be challenging.
The nurses will hook up fetal monitors. There are a few options for the type of monitoring you can have- including external and internal. Mothers typically prefer external because it can be less invasive. Your nurses and doctor will need to monitor baby continuously to make sure that he is doing well. Fortunately being monitored doesn't necessarily mean that you will be confined to the bed.
Your pain levels might fluctuate. When the Pitocin is first administered your doctor or midwife needs to decide on the correct dose for you. The goal is to mimic natural labor as much as possible: starting out with small, infrequent contractions and moving up to the big rushes that help you push your baby out. But sometimes, when your Pit. drip is first started, you might not feel anything for a long time. Or maybe you will be overwhelmed with contractions at the 7-8 pain scale rating. It can take some time to find a "sweet-spot" in the drip. This can be both uncomfortable and boring; be sure to stay in constant contact with your nurses at this time.
You'll be checked on, a lot. As with any drug Pitocin has possible side effects that your nurses will be watching for. They want to be sure that you and baby are doing well and tolerating the medicine appropriately. This means that they will be in and out often. They also are constantly watching your baby's heartbeat from the nurses station so any time that the monitor or baby moves they will need to come back and re-adjust it.
You might swell. Along with your Pitocin Iv is a bag of water that you'll be receiving. This water is essential for your body but might make you swell in certain places. It's normal but can be uncomfortable.
You probably wont be able to eat. You usually can't eat when you are induced so make sure, if you can, that you nourish your body a lot before you head in!
It might be hard to get comfortable. When you have IVs and heart rate monitors hooked up it can be hard to move around or get comfy. Many hospitals offer mobile units although not all. This doesn't mean you will need to lie in bed as there are many positions that facilitate labor while accommodating for clinical equipment.
It could be really quick! Or really slow. Although induction does allow for a scheduled labor, it doesn't allow for a scheduled delivery. Some women labor for days before the baby is born. Other moms take to Pitocin very well and deliver within just hours.
Eventually you'll have a baby! While it is true that the risk of caesarean section goes up with inductions, many women have successful vaginal births while being induced.
For more information and resources I strongly encourage you to contact a doula in your area.