To tell you the truth, I didn’t think I’d be here – post 40 weeks. Even though 40 weeks is the estimated time of a full pregnancy, all of that depends on your cycle and when you got pregnant and and and – it is no exact science as to WHICH particular date baby WILL be born. But still, I didn’t think I’d be here… at 40 weeks… still waiting.
Did you know that Term falls anywhere between 37 weeks and 42 weeks. Thats a 5 week window. That’s far off from an exact due date.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has redefined the meaning of “term pregnancy.” Pregnancies used to be considered at term, and babies ready for delivery, any time after 37 weeks. If mom went past that, those last three weeks (or longer) were almost seen as a write-off. Now, however, after a couple of decades that have seen too many C-sections and record numbers of babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), those last few weeks of pregnancy are being taken seriously. That’s why “term pregnancy” is now being broken down into distinct categories. (Source)
– Early Term: Between 37 weeks 0 days and 38 weeks 6 days
– Full Term: Between 39 weeks 0 days and 40 weeks 6 days
– Late Term: Between 41 weeks 0 days and 41 weeks 6 days
– Poster: Between 42 weeks 0 days and beyond.
That’s just some interesting info to chew on… but say you get to 40+ weeks and despite knowing that bubs is healthy and happy and fully developed for his/her impending adventure in the outside world – if a chemical induction (oxytocin/pitocin) is looming… what can you do to BAHM!!! speed labour along?
HUGE Disclaimer: Some people swear by these methods, and some seem to have zero effect. I am no medical expert. Please speak to your Care Provider before you try anything crazy and at the end of the day, baby will come when baby is ready, so play with this all lightly. Okay? Good.
With our second, we were warned of a fast birth. And at 40+3 days we were getting a bit nervous. Hubby had a HUGE speaking engagement fast approaching and genuinely couldn’t miss it. So on the Monday (40+3), we went nutso on EVERYTHING to do with natural induction, and Tuesday at 4:30am I went into (fast and furious) labour, and at 6:30am, our second was born. So even if it is all mental – I can’t help but believe that our attempts at natural induction were a raging, rip roaring success.
I’ve come to learn it’s all about oxytocin. ALLLL about oxytocin. So, thats the goal. Get more oxytocin running through your body, and do what you need to do to keep it up (and your stress/anxiety hormones at a minimum).
As a mom, and a doula, here’s what I would suggest: (Obviously, again, please chat to your birth team care providers before jumping into any of this.)
Exercise/Long walks. Man these can be hard because you feel like a hand or a head will pop out at any time, but don’t give up. Keep active (within reason).
Stretch and Sweep/Membrane Stripping: Some are not so keen on this one, as it’s a bit intrusive, but it can be very effective. Basically, your doctor/midwife will use a gloved finger to separate the amniotic sac from the uterine wall. This action releases prostaglandins. We love prostaglandins. *Personal preference: I had a gentle stretch and sweep with my 2nd, it didn’t hurt, and it certainly helped.
Nipple Stimulation: Stimulating your nipples can help release oxytocin and cause your uterus to contract and possibly bring about labor.
Sex: Although research results are mixed, anecdotes abound about late babies making an entrance soon after a love-making session. Semen contains cervix-softening fats called prostaglandins (also used in medical induction) and a woman’s orgasm can lead to strong uterine contractions. (source)
Acupuncture: Acupuncture stimulates the release of oxytocin in the body. In a randomized trial published by the Journal of Perinatal Medicine, over 400 women were given acupuncture, membrane stripping, or both procedures before their labours. There were no significant differences in the outcomes of the groups, but the vast majority of these women did not require medical inductions. Pregnancy acupuncturists are often super clued up with a number of tricks including how to try turn posterior babies – so keep an open mind. Even just for the fun of it.
Acupressure/Prenatal Massage: Some practitioners believe that acupressure can start and restart labor. The key is beginning the practice early and often, or else just head to an experiences prenatal massage therapist. Various pressure points are safe to press starting at 37 weeks. You can increase pressure the closer you are to your due date and during labour itself. But prior to applying acupressure to yourself, make sure you get proper instruction from a trained acupressure professional. Read a great Mommy Potamus article about it here.
Spicy Foods: Spicy foods can cause your body to release prostaglandins throughout the digestive process. These hormones may trigger contractions in the uterus. Either way, even if they don’t, you scored some chilli poppers out of the experiment. So it’s a win-win. (f you’re in the Cape Town area, may I suggest The Pickled Popper‘s Chilli Poppers).
Evening Primrose Oil: Though EPO itself may not cause labor, it can prime and soften your cervix. You may take the oil orally or insert it vaginally for the best results. You can prick the oil capsule with a clean needle and insert. While healthcare providers have long suggested taking EPO to ease birth, there is little proof that it naturally induces labor. Rather, treat it as something which softens your cervix, and that can’t hurt (source).
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: Midwives often recommend drinking red raspberry leaf tea in combination with evening primrose oil as your due date nears. The team at OBGYN North in Austin, Texas, share that the tea tones the uterus and helps to organize irregular contractions into regular, productive patterns. Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll stay hydrated. (source)
Eat Pineapple: The bromelain in pineapple and other tropical fruit is said to induce labor by stimulating the uterus. Alternately, it could just be the intestinal stimulation from eating large amounts of pineapple that gets labor started. And you would really need LARGE amounts for it to actually kick labour into gear. Either way, this is a delicious way to induce labor naturally.
Eat Dates: Date fruit contains saturated and unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acids, which are involved in saving and supplying energy and construction of prostaglandins. In addition, serotonin, tannin, and calcium in date fruit contribute to the contraction of smooth muscles of the uterus. Date fruit also has a laxative effect, which stimulates uterine contractions.” (source) There is another great article by Wellness Mama about dates and labour here.
All that being said, I’d love to hear if you have tried any of these methods and if anything helped you. And of course… Good Luck!
Image credits: herbs.lovetoknow.com, www.youngandraw.com, www.checkpregnancy.com.