Is it just me, or has time been moving incredibly SLOW lately??? As I’m getting closer and closer to my due date, I keep catching myself staring down at my belly and begging baby Saylor to make her grand entry. The worst part, as the days are getting longer, the cramps are getting worse. On top of that, for the past 2 weeks I’ve been experiencing nausea, lightening, and some intense Braxton-Hicks contractions. My energy level is getting lower, my clothes are getting tighter – and I even had my husband tie my shoes for me the other day! It’s time to take matters into my own hands…
By now, I feel like I’ve read pretty much all that the internet has to offer on pregnancy and labor. I’ve read the blogs, other moms’ experiences, and the medical sites as well. Being a nurse, and having a physician husband, you may imagine we can go a bit overboard on the research – and you’d be right. The new topic of choice, natural ways to induce labor.
Before you rush to judgement – I am full term, and would NEVER do anything against the advice of my doctors – and neither should you. The safety of my baby is the most important thing in the world to me, and I would never put that in jeopardy just to shave a few weeks or days off of my pregnancy. That being said, after consulting with my doctors, I got the green light to start trying a few things. Before you do the same, make sure you discuss everything in detail with your doctor.
Now – time for some myth-busting! The majority of the methods out there come with some degree of evidence – but most of it is anecdotal at best. Everyone seems to have a friend, or a cousin, or a hairdresser’s niece’s best friend who claims to have a success story. If you look at the medical literature – and we have – there really is no substantial evidence that any of these methods will definitively speed up the race to baby-time. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t willing to give them a shot.
Here are some things I’ve tried so far – and you’ll notice a theme – NO BABY YET. I’ll update as I go.
The theory: Pineapple contains an enzyme – bromelain – that can break down certain proteins in tissue, and theoretically will soften the cervix which may hasten the onset of labor.
The test: I bought two pineapples and ate one each day. One of the times it made me feel nauseated but nothing happened.
The verdict: NO BABY — but mostly delicious
Red raspberry leaf tea
The theory: Raspberry leaf tea has been long theorized to help strengthen and tone the uterus, which may help ready it for more efficient contractions and make labor potentially move faster.
The test: I started this at 36 weeks and increased my intake weekly until I was up to 4 cups a day, where I am at currently.
The verdict: TO BE DETERMINED — NO BABY YET — but warm and cozy
The theory: Exercise can get the muscles working and stimulate labor. Nothing fancy here.
The test: I’ve been working out regularly throughout pregnancy, and I have done my best not to slow down now. I’ve done pregnancy pilates, yoga, and most recently a barre class. I also try to take walks daily and have been nesting like a mad-woman!
The verdict: NO BABY YET — but I’m sure I’ll be happy I did it
The theory: Eating date fruits can increase cervical “ripening” and make medical induction of labor less necessary.
The test: I’ve been eating 6 dates per day for the past 3 weeks.
The verdict: NO BABY YET — but again, delicious
The theory: Gentle bouncing and hip/pelvic rolling on an exercise ball can help stimulate the baby to “bounce” their way out!
The test: I try to spend about 10-15 minutes on the ball a few times a day.
The verdict: NO BABY YET — and kinda tired
The theory: Eating spicy foods can trigger some degree of GI upset, which may stimulate uterine contractions
The test: Spicy is a way of life for me, so this has not been much of a shock to my system. This has not helped my pregnancy-related heartburn, but I have done my best to keep the Thai and Mexican food in regular rotation.
The verdict: NO BABY YET — you guessed it, delicious
A FEW MORE:
Castor Oil / Nursemaid’s Brew – This is supposed to cause GI mobility which may stimulate uterine contractions as well, and therefore labor. As with everything else, there is no solid evidence that this will induce labor when it isn’t time, and may lead to dehydration which can stress both my body and the baby. That being said, there are plenty of women who swear that it is what did the trick. Bottom line, I’m not sure I’m comfortable trying this one, especially before 40 weeks.
Nipple Stimulation – Stimulating the nipple can cause oxytocin release, which is important in milk let-down and breastfeeding – and also can cause uterine contractions. Evidence again doesn’t seem to support that this will bring about true labor any faster, and it may even cause painful contractions that don’t get you the bang for your buck. Bottom line, this would be a last resort for me, and I’m probably going to pass. I have heard good things using this as a strategy to help with contractions once already in labor, and I plan on bringing this up with my OB.
Acupuncture / Massage – There are plenty of people who say that certain pressure points exist that can stimulate the onset of labor. Studies haven’t necessarily panned out based on what I’ve read, but as far as I can tell, if it’s done properly it won’t cause any problems – and will definitely feel good!
SIDE NOTE: For those of you yelling SEX at your screen… I’m trying to keep this somewhat PG 😉😉 — The verdict: BABY MADE — BUT NOT HERE YET!
Moral of the story… Baby Saylor is going to come when she is good and ready. At the end of the day, as long as she’s healthy, that is just fine with me.