The countdown begins! I am 37 weeks, which means that I am at full term. The baby could come at any time now, because that due date your doctor gave you, is just a guess. So it’s time to make sure I am prepared for labor. I’m not talking about packing my hospital bag, although I do need to do that as well. Eek! I’m talking about prepping my body…because I when that baby is ready to come out, I want to be ready!
Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy being pregnant. I will miss all of the compliments, people opening doors for me, giving up their seats and waiting on me hand on foot. I am not ready to give all of that up, but I do want to have this baby naturally.
Now, when I say naturally, I mean vaginally, without being induced. I am definitely getting an epidural! A wise woman once told me, “There’s no prize, if you don’t get an epidural.”.
In an attempt to not go over my due date, and risk being induced, I have started to look into what I can do to help prep my body and cervix for labor. There are some things that I am willing to try, and there are others I just will not do.
Methods I Am Trying
1. Dates: Not dinner and a movie. Nature’s candy!
In this study, they discuss the effects of women who ate 6 dates a day, starting 4 weeks prior to their due date, compared with women who did not eat dates. The induction rate was lower, and labor was easier.
I have also read that dates soften the cervix, making for a shorter, more favorable labor. One study that I read, said that labor could be up to 11 hours shorter for woman who ate dates in the last couple of weeks of their pregnancy. I am in! I am drinking a date smoothie every morning now. Cheers!
2. Walking: This is not proven to help with labor, but it can’t hurt. Well, technically it can. My feet and hands swell up like balloons, and I run out of breath like I just climbed Mt. Everest. But, moderate exercise during your pregnancy is highly recommended.
*Prenatal yoga is great as well. See previous post on some of the benefits it offers.
My own personal theory on this; the stronger your body is, the more prepared it will be for labor. So I will continue to keep moving, no matter how much I want to just lay around and eat donuts.
And you know what? Doctors recommend that you walk around when you are having contractions. So if you are out for a walk and go into labor, just keep walking home. It’s not like the movies, where your water breaks and you have to rush to the hospital and risk having the baby in the car. Women generally have hours (and hours) before it is necessary to go to the hospital. So walk home, take a shower, walk around some more, and get ready girl!
3. Rest: I have read many articles that say women who are sleeping at least 8 hours a night, in the last couple of weeks of their pregnancy, have an easier labor. I know what you are thinking, “what pregnant woman sleeps for 8 hours a night?!”. Between trips to the bathroom, tossing and turning from side to side in an attempt to find a comfortable position, and other symptoms that may be ruining your sleep, I understand this is a fairy tale. But it’s important to try.
I am making time to nap in the day. I am currently on maternity leave, but I understand this may not be an option for all woman. Try to remember that your body and your baby need you to slow down. You may feel like there is a lot to do in these last weeks before baby arrives, but rest should be on your to-do list as well.
I think this is a direct correlation with your stress levels. The more relaxed you are, the more prepared your body and your baby is. If your baby senses stress, then why would they want to come out? Now this may not be why it helps, but I am all for resting!
Tip; lavender has been known to help with relaxation. Try placing a few drops on a tissue underneath your pillow. I also purchased an oil diffuser recently, that I have next to my bed. You can put different essential oils in it, and it makes you feel like you are at a spa! It’s amazing.
4. Induction Massage: Any method where I just lay there and relax sounds good to me. There are pressure points that therapist avoid during a prenatal massage. However, in an induction massage, they will focus on these points. The therapist should be trained in this method, and you should also consult with your physician prior to trying this.
Typically women will try this on or after their due date. But if your doctor is wanting to induce you, ask if you can try this method first, or other recommended methods.
I will definitely try this on my due date, but not any earlier. I have plenty of fluid still and the baby seems happy in my belly, so I will not evict her quite yet.
Methods I Will Avoid
1. Drink Castor Oil: A coworker told me that her mom drank castor oil, and she drank castor oil and they were both in labor within hours. I wasn’t sure what castor oil was, so I asked my husband. He uses it to help grow his beard. 1st red flag for me.
I then googled this method. It seems this is definitely a method woman have used. Castor oil is a laxative, which may cause contractions, but necessarily send you into labor. One article I read mentioned that you will have “explosive diarrhea” but will go into labor. 2nd red flag!!
3rd red flag for me; everything you put in your body is passed on to your baby. I am not a doctor, but this isn’t a cooking oil, or food, so we probably should not be drinking it.
2. Nipple Stimulation: I’ve got your attention now. As fun as this method may sound, from what I have learned, may not be safe. Although it can cause the onset of contractions, as with castor oil, doesn’t promise labor will follow. Meaning, this could cause fetal distress. We don’t want that. It’s already stressful enough for that little nugget to enter this unknown world. Let’s try to make it as smooth of a transition as possible for baby.
Stay away from this method.
3. Spicy Foods: We’ve all heard this old wise tale. This has a laxative effect on your body, which could bring on contractions. But your guessed it! Just like castor oil and nipple stimulation, this method doesn’t necessarily mean you will go into labor. Don’t stress the baby out!
I have also had severe heartburn my whole pregnancy, especially this last trimester, so I definitely will not be trying this method!
4. Acupressure: I haven’t read or heard anything bad about acupressure. In fact, quite the opposite. I have read this is not only recommended for labor induction, but throughout your pregnancy. Just like an induction massage, they will focus on pressure points that are said to induce contractions. It helps to relieve any stress you may be feeling. Stress can be so harmful to our bodies, so I can see how acupressure and massage can help prepare your body for labor. If you are relaxed and ready, maybe baby can feel that, and want to come out.
However, I will not be sticking any needles in my body. Nope, not for me! Although, if I make it to 42 weeks, I may be revisiting this method.
In a few weeks I will give an update on how my labor went. Now, this won’t necessarily mean that any of the above methods I tried worked or didn’t work, but it could help you to mentally prepare. For me, feeling like I have some sort of control in this unknown situation is helping to ease my mind. It helps me feel that there are things that I can do to help. But let’s face it, we really don’t know. Every woman’s labor experience is different. I will embrace whatever is given to me, because the end result is going to be the best gift I could ever ask for.
As always, please refer to your physician before trying any of the above methods.