40 Weeks: Waiting on Baby
So, your due date has passed. You are feeling anxious, huge, and more exhausted than ever—you want this baby out now! So what are some natural methods you can use to induce labor? Well, my first piece of advice is to remember that your baby will come out when he or she is ready. However, I understand that there are some potential risks to a longer gestation, especially if you have a physician or other hospital staff members breathing down your neck, threatening an induction or other intervention if your baby doesn’t come out within a specified time frame. Whatever your reason for considering induction, below are some possible methods for inducing labor naturally.
The first and one of the most well-known natural induction methods is engaging in sexual activity. Prostaglandins in the semen can help ripen the cervix to prepare it for labor, an orgasm can potentially stimulate the uterus to help initiate labor, and sex can stimulate oxytocin production.
Next on the list is nipple stimulation, which causes oxytocin release that can potentially have an impact on contractions.
Walking is also thought to be an effective way to bring on labor due to the pressure of the baby’s head on the cervix and the possibility that this could stimulate the release of oxytocin. In addition, just being upright and finding ways to open up your pelvis will help guide baby down into the birth canal, which could potentially help guide your body to start preparing for labor. Because of this belief, some individuals think that exercise could also be beneficial for labor induction. Either way, getting in a little exercise here and there is definitely not going to hurt anything!
So, continuing along…there are some herbs known to being useful in inducing labor; for example, raspberry leaf tea is thought to tone the muscles of the uterus. While it may not necessarily initiate labor on its own, it could help prepare your uterus in order to increase its efficiency during the labor process. Another herb thought to be effective is evening primrose oil, which may also help the cervix by aiding in its softening or effacement/thinning. It is also thought to have an effect on shortening labor duration due to the linolenic acid in contains, which can signal the release of prostaglandins that ripen the cervix, just as semen does!
Acupuncture and acupressure have also been successful in initiating labor in many cases; if you are currently seeing or want to see a professional, perhaps suggest to them your desire to initiate labor. They might know just what to do!
Whatever methods you choose, try your best to be patient. In most cases, if your baby hasn’t come out yet, it’s because he or she is still cooking in there! And also, a very important thing to remember if your health care provider is threatening to induce you…you can decline! If your intuition is telling you that baby just isn’t ready or if you simply don’t want to be coerced into unnecessary medical interventions (at least in a low risk situation), remind yourself that you have full autonomy and that you ultimately have the power to decide what is best for you and your baby.