In honor of my sister-in-law who is days away from having her first baby (!!!!!), I thought I’d do a post on something we all Google, probably multiple times, in the final days of pregnancy: How to get this thing out. NOW. And, I know that largely, if the baby ain’t ready they’re going to stay put. But you never know, and for me, doing these things made me feel better than just sitting around waiting. As always, consult a doctor before doing anything crazy, but I can say that I did all of the things on this list and who knows why, but I did go into labor 6 days before my due date.
- Pineapple – I had those little cans of Dole’s Pineapple juice on hand for a couple of weeks leading up to labor, and I’d drink them and think ‘Oh, I’m so proactive!’ But it turns out that Bromelain, the property found in pineapple that helps soften the cervix, is not even in the canned stuff – at least not at significant levels. In fact you’d have to eat A LOT of fresh pineapple for this to work. But the other way pineapple (and spicy foods, and castor oil) help to induce labor is by getting the bowels moving, and therefore possibly starting contractions. But I think that most people who are feeling “contractions” incited by too much pineapple are probably just having diarrhea cramps.
- Spicy foods – See above. I did go out for Mexican and Thai food the week before giving birth, but again, I’m pretty sure I just got really full and that it did NOT lead to labor. However, going out to eat and doing fun stuff is a great way to spend the last few days before you have a ticking timebomb in tow.
- Do It – A Lot – This might be the only medically verified way of getting to the delivery room faster. In fact, if you are induced in the hospital you will likely have Cervadil inserted vaginally to help thin and soften the cervix. It contains a hormone that mimics Prostaglandin, which is found in sperm in high amounts. In fact, semen is MUCH more effective than Cervadil. So do that deed, preferably right before bed, to allow the semen to stay in for as long as possible. Side note/TMI Alert/if you’re a male family member stop reading: if you’ve read my birth story, you’ll recall that the nurse who sent me home from the hospital prescribed this method, AKA the Italian Induction to help encourage dilation. It seemed to help, and of course there’s nothing better than sex when you’re 13 hours into labor and crying through each contraction.
- Walk – Oh, how I walked. And I actually believe that this, if anything, sent me into labor more than anything else. There are several reasons for this. My friend and neighbor was pregnant and due 2 weeks ahead of me, we walked 2-3 times a week for the last 6 months of pregnancy, for at least an hour each time. Both of us had our baby girls about 5 days early. I also remember a friend’s mom who was a labor and delivery nurse for years telling me to ‘Stay vertical! Let gravity do it’s thing!’. I always felt a lot of contractions while walking, and many women already in labor are told to walk to help keep things moving.
- Relax – Your baby has to move down through the birth canal to come out, and that’s so much harder if you are tense. I know several people who have said that they did what they needed to do to relax; a warm (but not too warm) bubble bath and a small glass of wine, and within a couple of days they were having a baby. I did this and when I got out of the tub I felt like the baby had ‘dropped’ and was in a much lower position.
- Evening Primerose Oil – Many healthcare providers (ask yours!) say that they don’t know that it helps but it won’t hurt, and approve 500 mg orally twice a day, 4 weeks prior to expected due date. 2 weeks prior to EDD, two capsules inserted vaginally before bedtime. EPO is also a source of Prostaglandin and helps the cervix begin the process of thinning and opening.
- Nipple Stimulation – You can get out your new fancy breast pump and put it to work. It may help trigger oxytocin, which in turn will bring on uterine contractions.
- The Belly Eviction Dance – This one I had to save for last, because I was pretty sure you wouldn’t take me seriously if I included it earlier. I actually did this. The Thursday before I went into labor I had a day where I was just so done. Looking back, this was the last day I didn’t have any early labor symptoms, so although I didn’t know it, I actually was pretty much done. Anyway, I stumbled upon this hilarious dance, and I actually did it. It made me sore, and little else, but I had to share…just in case…and because it is guaranteed to make you laugh. Watch the video here!
First, do this rub-the-belly-squat thingy in the morning when you are really ready should labor start. If you do it at 4 pm and labor begins at 9 pm, you’ll be tired! For as long as you can, try the following. Rub your belly with a flat palm quite vigorously in a clockwise circle, around around around (don’t be shy to be firm with your touch), for 1 minute (the average length of a contraction). This will stimulate a Braxton Hicks contraction. Next, for 3 minutes (the average you-know-you’re-in-labor-when length of break between contractions) do your own combination of a wide-legged lungy type of walking (big, wide-open pelvis—you’ll look ridiculous, so do it where you can be free of onlookers!) and squats. Walk walk squat, walk walk lunge—whatever—for 3 minutes. Think wide pelvis, deep squats. You can also put one leg up on stairs and lunge upwards into it (easier than lunging down towards the ground!). Do this rub-the-belly for 1 minute and lunge-squat-walk for 3 minutes for as long as you can. Rest. ( I rested by bouncing on my yoga ball!!) Repeat! It has been known to bring labor on, if the body is ready. If it’s not quite ready, rest and try again the next day. Don’t get discouraged! Trust in your body. It’s working just fine without too much messing with it. – SOURCE
This article has some great explanations and suggestions if you are looking for more natural induction ideas from someone WAY more qualified than I am!