Finally! The baby is considered “full term” at 37 weeks. Strangely enough though, time has decided to be cruel and make the minutes last forever as you think to yourself, “When will I go into labor” or “When and where will my water break?” I am currently 37 weeks along and like so many others, cannot wait for this baby to come out! Just think of what all we have endured over the past 37 weeks! We went from having a somewhat “normal” life to having absolutely everything change when the doctor said, “By the way, you’re going to have a baby!” He really should have either started or ended that sentence with, “SURPRISE!!! Everything you know about your life is about to change!!”
Anyhow, here we are. Out of curiosity, I researched various ideas on how to jumpstart labor. Deep down I knew that the baby will come when she is good and ready to come, but I just had to know if there was something that may convince her to make this decision a little quicker. I found quite a few suggestions from going on bumpy drives, drinking raspberry leaf tea, having sex, stimulating nipples, doing squats, staying active, and drinking castor oil. I do have a warning though for all of us desperate pregnant women before trying any of the above methods. First of all, TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR!!
Out of all the above methods, having sex if okayed by your doctor may prove to be the best as it stimulates your cervix and may help soften it. It is not certain whether the amount of prostaglandins contained in semen is in a quantity high enough to truly affect the cervix, but since you’re already pregnant, what’s the worst that can happen? Oxytocin is produced by orgasms and this hormone also causes contractions.
I have been told that remaining as active as possible is highly beneficial for recovery. Though it may or may not jumpstart labor, at least you can look forward to a better recovery. I have not heard any success stories about the bumpy drives but can only imagine the discomfort if your baby’s head is sitting on your bladder. I have read that squats may help the baby descend as it widens the pelvic opening. I have been doing squats throughout my pregnancy to try to keep some type of shape to my butt, and am pleased to report that they may be responsible for the baby’s head dropping so low at this point. For those who have attended baby classes, you will know what the baby’s head sitting at a -1 position means. For those who have yet to take classes, you better hurry up considering you only have a few more weeks until your due date. It means that the baby’s head has dropped as low as it can before entering the cervix and the birth canal. It is essentially sitting on top of the bladder and cervix.
I researched drinking tea and unfortunately, did not find much support. As a matter of fact, pregnant women are discouraged from drinking herbal teas with hibiscus, rose hips, chamomile, and several other herbs simply because they have not done enough research on how these herbs may affect the baby. Red raspberry leaf tea is thought to have several significant benefits for an expectant mom. It is high in Vitamins A and C; and helps tone the uterine muscles which in turn can make delivery easier. It does not however, ease the pain of when your cervix dilates, but can aide or reduce leg cramps. It is also supposed to help the body recover faster after delivery. If the body is not ready for labor though, it will not induce it.
As far as stimulating nipples goes, from what I understand, one would need to stimulate their nipples for a very long period of time at a consistent rate to produce the amount of prostaglandins required to stimulate contractions. The amount of stimulation received during intercourse or even breastfeeding is insufficient.
Drinking castor oil can prove to be more harmful than good. Though you are almost guaranteed to have abdominal cramping and diarrhea, it does not guarantee that labor will be induced. If your body is not ready to go into labor naturally, you are just asking for a lot of additional discomfort on top of what you are already experiencing. One can also get dehydrated which can have several negative affects on you, your labor, and ultimately, the baby. Dehydration can make a laboring mother tire more quickly, make recovery take longer, and can affect her ability to effectively produce breastmilk.
Regardless of which method is tried or if you try a combination of methods as I have, the bottom line is that if the body is not ready to go into labor, none of these will work. I have been told that a baby usually knows when they are ready to come out and that though a baby could survive outside the womb after 37 weeks without medical intervention, babies born at or around 40 weeks feed better and adjust better to life outside the womb. So, with three weeks to go and with that in mind, be patient! Rest assured knowing that if and when you do go into labor, your baby is fully equipped to survive in this world. Find things to pass the time to help you relax and get your mind off of the one thing you want so dearly. Take a walk or a nice warm bath. Watch the Lord of the Rings Trilogy with the extra scenes. Clean the baby’s room for the hundredth time or just get out of the house and visit with friends or go shopping. We are in the homestretch! Just be patient and don’t let the anticipation drive you mad! Soon enough, we will be holding the most precious thing in the world in our arms!