And So It Begins:
First pregnancy, due date arrives, due date passes. Ah! When will this baby come out. We are so excited to meet this little one and the anticipation can be hard to take. After three days overdue I went in for my prenatal check up with my midwife group. Baby and momma are doing well but no dilation, no practice contractions. Whats going on? Can we get this baby here or what?
At this point, my midwife group starts to talk induction. An appointment is made for an induction the coming weekend when I will be at 41 weeks. My midwife recommended induction at 41 weeks instead of 42 weeks as she said it would increase my chances of a cesarian. (I’d rather not be cut open if possible). Wanting to try to get this labor started as naturally as possible, meaning no hardcore drugs or intervention at the hospital, I gave my doula a call. She recommended a combination of options we will try to induce labor naturally.
Tips to Try and Induce Labor Naturally
Okay so first thing to understand is that what I am going to try to do to induce labor naturally has been recommended by my doula. This is not intended as medical advice and it is best to consult with your medical professional before trying any of these. I am just providing you with my path and you can decide what will work best for you and your family. These methods also do not guarantee that this baby will just come out right away. No one method is a manual eject button. When it comes down to it, we can do what we can to prepare our bodies and support the process but babies not ready until babies ready.
Please note that these practices should not be done for anyone who is earlier than 40 weeks into pregnancy. These are recommended for those who have passed their due date or if labor has begun. The last precious weeks in your belly are vital to your babies development. Premies are no fun for parents or for the baby.
First stop, acupuncture. Acupuncture has long been used to induce labor naturally. Little itty-bitty needles are placed on points of your body to stimulate a downward flow of Qi (energy) in your body. My acupuncturist placed some needles by my ankles, hand, top of my head and below my knees.
So far I have gone once a week for the past two weeks but now that I am three days overdue my doula suggested I try to start going every day until I go into labor. The good news here is that my insurance will help cover the cost of this and I will just have to pay the co-pay. It’s worth looking into your insurance to see if this is covered.
Essential Oils to Help You Labor Naturally: Your Oil Birth Stash
The classic primrose oil treatment. Primrose oil is also known as evening primrose and contains GLA which is gamma-linolenic acid. This anti inflammatory fatty acid is used to help with pain and inflammation as well as enhancing the release of sex hormones. You can ingest primrose oil in pill form or you can insert it far up into your cervix. You could also break it and insert it into your cervix using a clean finger and mix it around. What primrose oil does is help thin the cervix and prepare you for delivery. This oil can also be used for perineal massage.
During labor Myrrh can help increase the strength of your contractions. To use myrrh, you can apply a few drops to a cotton ball and take a wiff. This has been shown to be useful when your labor is stalled. You can also place it in a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba and rub it on the tummy with clary sage to try to bring on contractions.
Clary sage is a uterine tonic which can be placed on your ankles to encourage a healthy labor. It has been known to assist with contractions. This oil is commonly mixed with Myrrh.
Lavender is helpful to relax mommas during labor by releasing tension and stress in your body. To use lavender during labor, have your birth partner place a few drops on a warm cloth and lay it on your belly during each contraction. When it cools, replace it with another warm cloth. In early labor you can have your birth partner use a carrier oil to massage lavender on you. One note on using lavender oil is to not overdue it. A little goes a long way.
Take a cool wet wash cloth during labor and have your birth partner place it on the back of your neck to refresh you. When I was in Costa Rica for my honeymoon they had these available for guests and added vanilla It was heavenly! This combo is already packed in my birthing bag and ready to go. If you are dealing with the pains of back labor, peppermint with a carrier oil massaged on the back can do wonders. If you or your partner are feeling nauseous at all, a sniff of peppermint can assist. Just try not to use peppermint too close to actual delivery as it can potentially irritate a new baby.
Basil can be used to help when your confidence is stunted. You can dilute basil with a carrier oil and it place on your temples or lower back. If you are feeling fearful of the events going on or what is to come, basil is there to the rescue.
Homeopathy to Naturally Induce Labor
- Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) & Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
Blue Cohosh comes from a root with properties that are said to help stimulate and strengthen the uterus. It is thought to have similarities to the hormone, estrogen. Blue Cohosh has long been used by Native Americans to induce labor. Black cohosh is used to assist with dilating the cervix. Both of these can be taken in a homeopathic pill that tastes sweet like sugar. It is best if you avoid touching it with your hands and place them onto your tongue and let them dissolve in your mouth. I would consult with a certified homeopath as to what the best dosage for you and your body is.
Tea to Prepare Your Body for Labor and Delivery
I stopped into my local apothecary called Apothecary Tinctura. This place was heavenly. The smells, the fun bottles, tinctures, teas and herb blends… mmm. I wish I could live in that shop. While there they worked me up a beautiful concoction of red raspberries, red roses, hibiscus, allspice, cinnamon and schisandra berries. I have been instructed to drink 3-4 cups a day of this tasty blend. I personally like the taste of it but if it’s too earthy or woody you can always add a little bit of honey to sweeten it up. I take my big french press and make a big batch of it. The longer you let it brew the better. Ideally you can make the batch the night before and then drink it the next day.
Red raspberry tea can help during labor to increase uterine contractions and the strength of contractions which can be helpful to shorten active labor. Red rose tea can help to provide comfort from cramping. Allspice acts as a stimulant to enhance blood flow in your body as well as aiding in pain relief. Like allspice, cinnamon can help to increase blood flow and improve circulation. Additionally, cinnamon works as an anti-inflammatory which is great for after giving birth. Schisandra berries can help with tension and stress in the body as well as assisting with fatigue. This tea combo is great before and during labor.
A labor prepping massage is not the same as your typical spa, relaxing massage. A good labor prepping massage will involve pressing stimulating spots on your body that help communicate to your uterus and down under to relax and open up. During my massage I felt more pressure in my cervix as well as movement from the baby when certain places were stimulated. These massages have been known to help start to bring on contractions but are no guarantee that they will induce labor unless your body is ready for labor to begin. I highly recommend making sure that you see someone who specializes in labor prepping massage instead of just seeing any old massage therapist as certain reflex points can have significant impacts.
One of the best ways to help induce labor naturally is to get it on like you are trying to make a baby. Sex can help you dilate if you have not already as well as preparing the cervix for birth. How does it work? Well if you can achieve an orgasm, sex can help stimulate your body into action through the release of oxytocin. The additional benefit of semen is that it can help to soften the cervix through the release of prostagladins. I know during the later stages of pregnancy you feel pretty uncomfortable and your range of movement is limited but there are a few recommended positions that might work for you. You can try to spoon, side laying position, reverse cowgirl or just roll around until you find a position that works for you. If sex seems out of reach for you and your partner you can try nipple stimulation or just do some good sweet cuddling. From what I hear it’s best to try to enjoy this intimate time together while you can. Once baby comes things could look much different in terms of time and energy you have to be intimate together, at least for a little while.
While you can’t guarantee that these techniques will induce your labor naturally, they are still all really great for your body and baby. Each one will help prepare your body for when it is ready to begin laboring. A quick, safe and easy labor is one that we all hope for on our labor journey. Take the steps that you can to physically and mentally prepare yourself for one of the most miraculous moments of our life.