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Dear "Auntie Natal" - How long is induction? And when should my partner come to the Hospital?

Dear Auntie Natal,

I've been scheduled for an induction at 39 weeks and I'm wondering how long it will take? I've heard it can take days! I'm worried my partner will go nuts sitting in that little room since he won't be re-admitted if he leaves. Please advise!




Dear Jasmine,

I'm sorry to tell you that it is impossible to determine how long induction will take without an exam and even then it's is an educated guess. Just like jumpstarting a car, it depends on the engine. In your case, if your body is really ready, induction might just push you into labor freefall. But if not, it definitely could be days. When you are admitted, your Care Provider will examine you and - based on dilation, effacement, baby's position, etc - give you a (Bishop's) score. If the score is above 5, it will probably be less than a day. If it is under five, I'd mentally hunker down and expect a lot longer.

If you'd ask me the same question about when your partner should join pre-Covid-19, my answer would have been different. Currently, partners are not allowed in the hospital until the woman is admitted and then they are captive during labor. If they leave, they will not be allowed back in so with induction, it is quite a dilemma.

Here are three possible answers - you decide which works best for you.

  1. Ask your Care Provider about using a 'foley balloon' for the first part of induction. Remember that induction is usually a two step process and it is possible that the first step (ripening the cervix) can be started in the OB office. After the balloon is inserted, you can usually go home. Then when the water balloon falls out, you and your partner can go in to the hospital together. Cervical ripening usually accounts for 50% of the induction time and is not painful.

  2. If the Care Provider won't or can't use the 'balloon', you may go into the hospital alone and ask what your 'score' is after being examined. If you are told that your Bishop score is a '3', then you can call your partner and tell him/her to go home and get some sleep. They can always call him/her in if things start to move quickly. If they tell you that your score is a '7', then you can tell him/her to come up to be with you now.

  3. Finally, you could just insist he/she be with you the whole time. Bring things to do, snacks to eat and clothes to wear. After all, they aren't called support partners for no reason!

Good luck on your induction. I hope your score is high and your body is ready!

Keep Learning,

Auntie Natal

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