Labor Induction Tricks? None of It Works!

Marj Hatzell
15

Old photo woman with baby
My Grandmom bringing home her last
(and LATE) baby.
Most people get antsy at the end of their pregnancy. Nearing the end of pregnancy, your emotions run the gamut between excited to see the baby and being sick and tired of not being able to see your feet. Some people are lucky enough to enjoy more than the typical 40 weeks (not that I know anyone that has happened to. AHEM.) and the anticipation just about kills them.

These days, most doctors are in a hurry to get that baby born because going past the due date means you'll have an alien baby, just like V! KIDDING! But it is true that going too long past the due date can affect the mother's (and baby's) health.

The World Health Organization described a post-term birth as any pregnancy lasting past the 40-week mark. WHO says women who are induced after 41 weeks had a lower rate of infant mortality. Women who go beyond the 41 week mark run a higher risk of more complicated births. Complications include lack of amniotic fluid, placental insufficient, fetal growth retardation, and birth trauma.

Why the hurry? Many doctors do not like to go past the magic number of 40 due to the infant mortality rate. If they are darn sure of that due date, that is. Many women can tell you that they KNOW the doctor is off, despite measurements during prenatal care. Either way, 41 weeks is the WHO's magic number. While WHO and other national organizations recommend induction by 41 weeks, not everyone agrees it's best for the mother or baby. Some prefer to let nature take its course.

I went to midwives for both pregnancies and was due on the same day exactly two years apart (beginning of December. Ten points if you can figure out the date of conception). While my first baby was the perfect pregnancy and I went into labor on my due date, my second child had other plans. Even dilated to the number four at Thanksgiving, he still didn't make his arrival. And he waited. And waited. And pretty soon it was Christmas Eve and I was two weeks "late." Which meant I refused to be induced on Christmas. And the midwives weren't too keen on it either. I STILL had to be induced two days later, despite all of those fabulous natural remedies and tried-and-true methods to naturally induce labor. If the kid had any amniotic fluid left I'm pretty sure he'd still be in there, lounging back, reading a book, and putting his feet up on my rib cage.

Still, I wasn't crazy about induction. I was going to midwives for a reason, for crying out loud. So, after I was a few days late and he was still doing well, they recommended some stuff to try. And I'm pretty sure I don't have to tell you that you shouldn't do this without the blessings of your personal practitioner, right? DON'T, mmkay? Anyways, here's what I was told to try:

  1. Sex. Apparently there is a hormone released that helps encourage labor. As long as your water hasn't broken (it could introduce infection), you're good to go. And the obvious benefit of sex while pregnant? You won't get pregnant! SCORE! Nope, didn't work. Sure was fun, though.
  2. Walking. It's good exercise and if you're having contractions, it may help push you into labor. PUSH! HA! No pun intended (okay, I totally meant it).
  3. Castor Oil. Castor oil is suspected to help move the bowels, therefore causing uterine contractions and more "bearing down." The reason I think it helps you go into labor is because you may immediately vomit it right up, like I did. Which, of course, causes you to bear down. Which is kinda important for pushing babies out (and bonus? You won't poo when bearing down during labor if you're, ahem, cleaned out).
  4. Nipple Stimulation. I only wish I was making this up. First of all, they're a bit sensitive for some women when they are pregnant. Second of all, it causes a release of oxytocin, which we all know induces pregnancy naturally (pitocin is the version they use to induce in hospitals). This is suspected to cause unhealthy contractions during labor, however, so please, please PLEASE do not do it without consulting your practitioner. Not crazy about stimulating your own nipples? Ask your partner. It'll be more fun for them anyhow.
  5. Acupuncture. I've never tried this but I have friends who did. They swear by it, though it didn't bring about labor. Gives a whole new meaning to waiting on pins and needles, doesn't it? I know. Bad joke. I try.
  6. Herbal remedies, such as Evening Primrose Oil or Black/Blue Cohosh. Again, don't do it without consulting, etc, etc, blah, blah, BLAH. I tried both. Nope. Still in there.

And just in case I didn't make this abso-smurfly clear up there: the choice to try natural induction should be made between you and your practitioner. Your mileage may vary. And hopefully you have more luck than I did.

How about you, have you heard of any surefire ways to get the baby to make a grand entrance?


Image via Marj Hatzell

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