I recently wrote about what happens when your bump measures too small for dates, and now I’m going to fill you in on what to expect when you and your baby are facing failure to thrive and early induction.

Failure to Thrive and Early Induction

I was booked in to be induced at 8am the following morning. This in itself was quite terrifying: so very soon – why?

So when I received a phone call from the hospital at 6.30am asking me not to come until 11am because they were busy, I panicked – was my baby at risk?

All I really knew was that the previous day’s scan had shown Pixie’s abdominal circumference was below what it should be compared to her other measurements – in other words she was failing to thrive. This is usually caused by the placenta prematurely failing, which is natural towards the end of gestation but can be incredibly dangerous if it happens early. And I was  sickeningly aware of a friend of a friend who had just very recently lost their baby in the late stages of pregnancy for this very reason.

What happens when your baby falls into the category of failure to thrive and you have to be induced early? Read our birth story to understand the process and learn what to expect.

When we got to the maternity ward a few hours later I was in turmoil. A rather brash midwife again told us they were too busy to take me and turned us away until that evening. We had no choice but to go back home and by this point my anxiety was through the roof. We were eventually admitted at 6pm that evening.

Induction is notoriously horrific – but I’d not bothered to educate myself about something I didn’t think applied to me. No matter, I learned on the job:

Suffice to say it obliterated most of my wishes in terms of my labour.

The first pessary negatively affected Pixie’s heart rate to such a degree that the second was delayed by several hours. As our ambiguous fears solidified into reality, the guttural howling of the other women on the ward – initially terrifying – became irrelevant.

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For a particularly harrowing half hour, my baby’s heartbeat disappeared with no fewer than three different staff unable to locate it. New machinery was brought in and still there was no joy; there were murmurings of an emergency section.

We’re not equipped to deal with the sheer terror and loss of control in such situations; as is often said to be the case during overwhelmingly intense despair, I felt myself watching the drama unfold, as though I’d left my body and was watching from another perspective.

Eventually, while my husband and I clung to each other desperately willing away our fears, I was scanned as a last resort – and there she was, curled up and hiding; distressed but holding on. I was monitored closely, and our relief was almost tangible as she stabilised.

Failure to thrive and early induction

Medical Interventions

I was urged to reconsider my position regarding an epidural. A midwife told me she’d personally insisted on having an epidural before the hormone drip when she was induced.

By the time my daughter was born, I wished I’d done the same.

The entire experience was unpleasant to say the least: I was high-risk; I was being so violently sick I was put on IV fluids; I relented and agreed to the epidural because my labour was so fast the pain was unbearable (it failed); I was catheterised; I was given an episiotomy and lost half a litre of blood.

In fact, the only things I (narrowly) avoided were a cesarean, and any form of assisted delivery (had I not worked so hard in the gym during my pregnancy, our daughter would have been born using ventouse). It’s fair to say I was traumatised by the ordeal.

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But Then We Had Our Baby Girl

Failure to thrive and early induction

Labour lasted just 4.5 hours from the moment my waters were broken, and I dilated from 6 to 10cm in 45 minutes, delivering Pixie 11 minutes later. She arrived at 11.03pm, weighing a dinky 5lb 4oz, and she was perfect. I couldn’t quite believe after all the drama that she was here, and we were both okay.

Trying to put into words that surreal and magical time is like trying to describe a rainbow to the blind, the sound of the sea to the deaf.

Hand on heart, I don’t think I can say I even felt the immediate maternal outpouring of love we’re promised; in hindsight I expect I was in shock. We stayed in overnight and were discharged the following morning. Her blood sugar levels had been approved, I was successfully breastfeeding (I have never been more determined about anything in my life), and she was deemed fit to leave hospital. Hurrah!

Sadly, this was not the end of our story. You can catch up with the next drama here, or skip ahead for some better news about how a positive labour is possible after a traumatic delivery.






Anxiety, Health, Newborns and babies, Pregnancy

An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is an experienced breastfeeding advocate, and expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.


  1. Not another cliff hanger! You are killing me here Kate! I too had a traumatic first birth, you might be pleased to hear my second was much better though. They are both on my blog if you want to read them.

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      Sorry! Next post on Tuesday!

      That’s reassuring to hear about your second delivery, I’ll definitely check your posts out, thank you. I’m currently coming to terms with the idea of it being very similar, because I’m measuring small again. But there’s still a couple of months to go so who knows, anything could happen in that time. Fingers crossed!

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