Your baby is still just as likely to come before 42 weeks as it ever was. Standard of care is not to induce before 42 weeks, as long as you are having biophysical profiles, careful monitoring or what not. In any case, hold out as long as possible, because inductions procede much more smoothly the closer you are to your natural birthing time.
Second, my sister and I have both been induced, and neither of us used any pain medication. I was induced on my due date for pre-e. I think I was very close to labor anyway, as I was more dialated that day than the day before, and was already having painless, erratic contractions when I arrived for the induction. I was given prostaglandin gel. Contractions started up well a couple of hours later. Several hours later my water was broken to keep labor progressing. My baby was posterior, and consequently I had a very active, very uncomfortable, rather long labor. Baby was born less than 24 hours after I reported to the hospital. It was long, and I definitely would have accepted an epidural, except that my mom and dh kept the nurse away so she couldn't offer me one! Baby was born 3 hours after my lowest point, so it wouldn't have been worth it anyway, to me.
They thought my sister was over-due, though, given how iffy her dates were, they should have known better. She was induced with pitocin. She had a 4 1/2 hour labor. The last 1 1/2 was really intense. She was not able to be as active because of the drip. I think she did some hypnosis on her own, from previous training, not birth preparations.
If I had to do it all over again, I would definitely up the monitoring and postpone induction as long as possible. When my doc and I decided together that induction was necessary (as we did the first time), I would choose methods (again) that allowed my mobility over methods that strapped me to a bed.
I definitely agree that a doula could only be a plus in this situation, and as it is becoming very common, it should be easy to find one that you click with who has lots of experience with this!
Oh yeah, and I have never had any "visible progression" until the birth day. All those braxton hicks never seem to win me any "free" centimeters. You could go into labor tomorrow and not know about it until it happens. Here's hoping you do
dd-00, ds-02, dd-04, ds?-due 10/06