You’re full term. Yay!
Now you’re totally over being pregnant and you’re ready to just do this thing. I’ve been there. A quick search on How to Induce Labor will give you all kinds of terrible ideas on how to get this party started. But there are several safe, easy and natural ways to start your labor.
When Should You Start Trying To Induce Yourself?
39-41 week is the safest time for a baby to be born. Don’t start to panic at 38 weeks 2 days that labor hasn’t started yet! Babies born before 39 weeks have more trouble breathing, sucking and swallowing and have more hearing and vision problems. Check out March of Dimes for more info on why waiting until full term is so vital.
Natural Ways to Induce Labor
This is the easiest and healthiest thing to get your labor going. The day I went into labor we had gone on a walk in the park and sat by the river. Walking reduces stress, puts the baby into the proper position and uses gravity to bring baby down into the pelvis and onto the cervix. Up your walking game after 39 weeks. I walked 3-4 miles a day at the end of my pregnancy!
Let all the husbands cheer! Semen has properties called prostaglandins that soften the cervix, making it thin out and dilate easier.
Orgasms. These can actually start your labor right away. But know that you should NOT have intercourse if your water has broken or you suspect a leak in fluid.
Nipple stimulation can cause strong contractions. There is a lot of science to back this up, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to regular contractions. But it’s definitely a go-to!
And don’t worry about having sex before 39 weeks, unless you are prematurely dilating or told to avoid sex by your doctor.
Clary Sage essential oil has estrogen-like properties called sclerals. This may help start the hormonal cascade of labor.
Evening Primrose Oil has been used for hundreds of years across the world. It’s taken orally after 38 weeks and is thought to help the cervix to soften.
This is the most common thing I heard while pregnant. “Eat something spicy!” There’s little scientific research to back this up but plenty of moms will tell you it worked for them. A possible reason this works for women is because of a not-so-easy-to-discuss side effect, poop. Large bowel movements are common right before labor begins and eating something that causes a bowel movement may work to start labor.
It may surprise you but this tip actually has some good research behind it. I love acupuncture for lots of reasons in pregnancy – I’m pretty sure it’s what got me pregnant (well you know what I mean). If you can’t find someone who works regularly with pregnant women try a deep foot massage with reflexology. Some doctors will actually tell you to avoid strong foot massages before 39 weeks!
What NOT to do
Several times while pregnant I heard “Drink some castor oil! It’ll get labor started!” To be honest, it might start labor but not in a healthy or fun way. It’s likely to give you bad stomach pain and diarrhea and may cause vomiting. The last thing you want before you have a baby is to have painful cramping and diarrhea for a day. And if it ended up working wouldn’t that be a nice story for parties “oh yes, my terrible diarrhea caused my water to break…”
Having the Doc Break Your Water
This is the LAST POSSIBLE option. You don’t really want to do this until you’re past 40 weeks. Sweeping membranes is one thing, but breaking water means that it – you’re having your baby in the next 36 hours. It also means you’re having your baby whether your labor starts or not. If your labor doesn’t start on it’s own you’ll have a medical induction or c-section. This also brings a risk infection, prolapsed cord (which is an emergency) and cord compression.
There are good reasons to do this – like avoiding pitocin when you are already in labor. But keep it as a last resort.
What have you tried that worked? Or what have you heard to try?
Comment below and let me know!