“Yes, I am still pregnant, no baby yet.”
Every woman that has been pregnant to term has probably made that statement. More than once. Probably to herself, in the morning, upon waking. Another night and no labor. Sigh. As your pregnancy approaches 40 weeks and/or beyond, your care provider may start mentioning the “I” word: Induction. Or, if you are trying for a VBAC, you might be asked to schedule a repeat cesarean. So now what?
Take control. As a doula, one of my primary goals is to give you the tools to take control of your labor and birth experience. Once you have control, you can steer the course of your journey to parenthood in a positive direction by making educated decisions. The suggestions below may start your labor sooner rather than later, or they may not, but the more you do the better. Do them only after you have discussed the safety, pros, cons, risks and benefits of each with your care provider.
- Chiropractor- For one thing, you will feel better. If your spine and hips are adjusted, then baby’s head just might get into an even better position to get labor started.
- Acupuncture/Acupressure- An acupuncturist knows the points to stimulate to cause contractions. Even if the contractions do not start labor, you will get the idea of what contractions feel like. The acupuncturist can also tell you about some acupressure points to use at home as well.
- Intercourse- So important - two benefits in one act. 1.) Prostaglandin is a component of semen. Prostaglandins soften the cervix, which allow it to thin (effacement) and open (dilate). Think of it as a tree stump changing into a very, very flat donut. The softer the cervix, the easier it will smush and open the hole in the center. 2.) A happy ending for
you (the woman), will release a big burst of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the feel good love hormone and it stimulates contractions. I will discuss the synthetic forms of both prostaglandins and oxytocin when we get to Cervidil and Pitocin.
- Castor Oil/Spicy Food/Any Food that gives you Diarrhea- When you have diarrhea, your body produces prostaglandins-that good ol’ cervix-softening hormone again! I don’t recommend a huge dose of Castor Oil or going overboard on diarrhea producing food for one very big reason: Do you want to experience contractions and diarrhea at the same time? Diarrhea is exhausting mentally, physically, and it may dehydrate you. Use the diarrhea route cautiously.
- Nipple Stimulation- This might sound intriguing, embarrassing, or stupid. Fact is your body produces oxytocin when your nipples are manipulated. Oxytocin, the contraction stimulator! Breast pumps, your partner, a washrag or
your own fingers can provide the tweaking necessary to get the oxytocin flowing. Some bodies produce an overabundance of oxytocin, so start slow and easy. Find out what your body baseline is and increase the frequency and duration over time.
I would like to state again: Check in with your care provider before you use any of the above options. If they say no, find out why specifically. Speaking of care providers, our area is blessed with some great options for childbirth-obstetricians, hospital midwives, and homebirth midwives. Whatever type of care provider you choose, make sure it is a relationship you are comfortable with. Not all personalities mesh well, and the intimate childbirth moment is not the time to hash out differences of opinion or doubt your trust in your care provider. This trust relationship becomes more and more important as your due time arrives.
If it is very important to you that labor starts on its own, then you need to have a conversation with your care provider. Ask for time and a plan to safely wait for labor to start on its own. Your care provider may require one or both of the following tests repeatedly until your labor begins.
- Non-Stress Test- Tracks baby movements while attached to a fetal heart monitor and/or contraction monitor.
- Amniotic Fluid Level- If yours is too low, ask for 24 hours to improve the levels. You may be a bit dehydrated. If you drink the correct amount, your amniotic levels should come up.
- Cervidil is a synthetic cervix softener-essentially synthetic prostaglandins. The Cervidil suppository is placed against the cervix for a few hours, then removed. The suppository can be removed at any time if necessary.
- Pitocin is a synthetic contraction stimulator-essentially synthetic oxytocin. Pitocin is administered through an IV drip attached to a pole. Pitocin use requires continuous fetal heart monitoring and contraction monitoring. Pitocin drip can be stopped or the rate of administration can be slowed.
- Cytotec is another name for Misoprostol. Cytotec use for labor induction is controversial. Cytotec was developed to control ulcers. For the purpose of labor induction, it is either taken orally or placed on the cervix. Once swallowed, it cannot be unswallowed. Once placed on the cervix, it dissolves and cannot be removed. In rare cases, Cytotec has caused uterine rupture.
Good Luck and Happy Pushing!