As I sit here 2 days past my due date with baby #2 I can definitely relate to the frustration and impatience you are probably experiencing at this time. I swear I either feel like I want to punch someone from the annoyance or cry because I feel like my body isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do.
If you’re to the point that I am then you are probably looking into ways to naturally get things started. First and foremost, you should not try ANY natural induction techniques without the consent of your doctor first.
While some of these techniques are more stooped in myth, there are some that do in fact have some science behind them.
Things to Eat to Induce Labor
Eggplant Parmesan: There is a local restaurant in Atlanta called Scalini’s that boasts their eggplant parmesan can bring on labor within 48 hours. While eggplant is very yummy there is nothing scientific that points to the eggplant being the cause of labor. It is actually more likely that the herbs in the dish including basil and oregano may have helped jump start things. So eat up that Italian Mommas!
Pineapple: There is actually an enzyme in pineapple called bromelain that is thought to help ripen and soften the cervix. Once the cervix is fully softened you will begin to dilate which is thought to bring on labor. The highest concentration of bromelain is in the core of the pineapple so get juicing!
Spicy foods: The theory behind this one is that overly spicy dishes can stimulate your GI tract which can also stimulate your uterus and generate contractions. I can tell you I had a bit of a GI bug at 35 weeks and began having contractions, so I definitely think there is some truth to this one although I personally cannot tolerate spicy foods. I mean I’m already eating Tums like candy!
Licorice: Unfortunately, this isn’t referring to the tasty movie theater quality Twizzlers, but instead is the classic black licorice. Black licorice contains an ingredient known as glycyrrhizin, which consumed in large amounts has been linked to a shorter gestation.
Castor Oil: Consuming small amounts of this oil or cooking it into your food is known to stimulate your bowels ie. You WILL most likely get diarrhea from eating this in large quantities. Again, the stimulating of the GI tract can prompt contractions.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: Be sure to talk to your doctor or midwife about the quantities that are appropriate to consume of this particular tea. While this leaf isn’t particular known to induce labor it does have properties to tighten the uterus. This increases the contractibility and strength of contractions which can result in a shorter and more productive labor.
Exercises to Induce Labor
Squats: While it is extremely beneficial to be active throughout your entire pregnancy, doing squats helps create more room for baby to move down into the optimal engaged position ready for birth. Strong legs are also an integral part of giving birth.
Long Brisk Walk: Brisk walking can also help get baby in the engaged position. This will allow their head to put pressure on your cervix and encouraging it to thin out and dilate. The slight bouncing motion that brisk walking generates can also be helpful with moving baby down into the pelvis more.
Climbing Stairs: By skipping a step as you climb the stairs you are allowing your pelvis to open up even more which may allow baby the extra bit of wiggle room necessary to get them engaged. Climbing stairs can also help loosen up your hips. Not to mention it’s great for your butt!
Exercise/Birthing Ball: Sitting and gently bouncing back and forth on an exercise ball allows your hips to open and can get more blood to the uterus and placenta. Birthing balls are also great to use during labor as they can help keep your hips open to allow the baby to descend into the birth canal.
Pelvic tilts: This exercise in particular is great for keeping your hips loose and giving baby more room to move down. You can do these standing against a wall or even on the exercise ball. One of my favorite ways to do this stretch is on all fours, commonly known as cat-cow stretch.
Other Unconventional Techniques
Sex, Sex and More Sex: While I know feeling like a whale probably doesn’t have you feeling particularly sexy or in the mood the hormone prostaglandins found in semen can actual help ripen the cervix. Not to mention the hubs will not be getting any for the first 6 weeks after you give birth anyway as you heal so you might as well get it on now!
Nipple Stimulation: This technique as well as breast stimulation can cause your body to release oxytocin which can lead to contractions. The common drug Pitocin which is used during medical inductions is the synthetic form of this exact hormone. Natural is always better if I do say so myself.
Acupressure/acupuncture: I would be sure to see a specialist if you decide to try this, but there are several pressure points around the ankles and feet in particular that are said to induce labor. This is something you need to be especially careful of if you frequently get prenatal massages throughout your pregnancy, which I certainly did! If you are seeing a prenatal massage therapist they should already know to avoid these areas, but there’s nothing wrong with giving them a little reminder. Personally, I am not a fan of needles therefore I never explored acupuncture, however, if you’re adventurous enough to give it a go feel free!
Membrane stripping: While some may argue this technique is not “natural” it certain beats being induced with drugs in my opinion. Basically, this involves your doctor breaking the membranes that attach the amniotic sac to the bottom of your uterus. However, you must be at least 1 cm dilated to have this procedure performed. This stripping makes the uterus produce oxytocin which causes it to contract and jump start the labor process. Some women report this procedure can be quite painful though.
At the end of the day your body will go into labor when it is ready and not before. However, if you are approaching your 41st week your doctor will want to talk to you about scheduling a medical induction.
It’s honestly crazy to think what our bodies go through to not only grow this miracle, but also the mass amount of change it endures to give birth. But what is most important is that both baby and momma are healthy and together at the end of it all. So don’t fret as this is just one small part of the rest of your lives you will have together to enjoy and cherish your new edition.
Good luck mommas, I hope you find these tips helpful!
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