From "disappointing" to "fantastic": Women's experiences with labor induction in a U.S. tertiary hospital


Objective: The series of interventions that comprise labor induction shape patient experiences; however, patient perceptions are not always considered when structuring the process of care. Through qualitative interviews, we elucidated women's expectations and experiences regarding labor induction.

Methods: Labor induction patients were recruited from a United States tertiary care hospital's postpartum mother-baby unit and invited to participate in semi-structured qualitative interviews. Interview questions included expectations and experiences of the labor induction process, side effects and health outcomes of concern, reflections on personal tolerance of different interventions, and thoughts about an ideal process.

Results: Between April and September 2018, 36 women were interviewed. The labor induction process involved a wide range of experiences; when asked to characterize labor induction in one word, responses ranged from horrible, frustrating, and terrifying to simple, fast, and smooth. Inductions were often described as longer than what was expected. The most polarizing induction method was the Foley balloon catheter. Women's concerns regarding side effects largely centered on the health of their baby, and an ideal induction involved fewer interventions.

Conclusions: Experiences with labor induction vary greatly and are related to expectations. The way interventions are introduced influences women's perceptions of control and their ultimate level of contentment with the birthing process. Attention to experiences and preferences has the potential to improve quality of care through communication, shared decision-making, and education.