When we talk about due dates with pregnant women, people expect to hear a single date, ie. 19th January. The way this is worked out is by Naegal’s rule, which is plus nine months then plus seven days from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). So if your LMP was 27th August 2011, then your due date is 3rd June 2012. This is based on a regular menstrual cycle of 28 days duration. If your period is irregular or longer or shorter than 28 days, then the due date has to be altered accordingly. Even then, birth is not an exact science and many other factors (fetal influences, hormonal changes, stress, infection, just to name a few) affect when a baby will be born.
This is why we should really be discussing a range of time that we could reasonable expect a healthy fully developed baby to be born, instead of a specific “due date”. This range of time is between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. Anything before this is considered premature, but anything after the single due date is considered post dates. I wonder if this use of the term “post dates” or “overdue” as soon as you pass the allusive “due date”, causes women to feel even more anxious, impatient and “over it” than they already are.
Now I hate to be the bearer of bad news but no methods of induction, either natural or medical, are foolproof. As i mentioned earlier, there are many contributing factors that decide when a baby will be born, so the things I suggest below will not always bring on labour. They may however, tip you over the edge, and get contractions started if you’re almost there. Some people will swear by one method or another because it worked for them, but as we are all individuals, so are our births and the things that work that spur labour on.
Below are some things that have worked for people over the years. Rest assured though, most babies will come when they’re ready. The minority that don’t can be helped along with medications that can be used to start contractions, in a hospital setting. And if every method and medication has been used and still labour has not ensued, we are blessed to have access to caesarean birth when necessary. Please don’t attempt any of these things until you are overdue.
The 3 Hot’s
Hot food – Very spicy food is thought to bring on labour by causing your digestive system and bowel to be irritated, which in turn rubs against and irritates your uterus, starting contractions. This may result in having diarrhoea in labour which is unpleasant.
Hot bath – A warm bath can be relaxing and soothing, so even if it doesn’t start contractions, it is a lovely calming way of preparing yourself for the rigors of labour.
Hot sex – A woman I cared for once said “right now I think I could only manage tepid sex, do you think that’ll work?” Hilarious! The reason sex is suggested is because semen contains the largest amount of naturally occurring prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are a chemical that cause the cervix to become soft and ready for labour. The “gel” used to induce women in hospital is made from prostaglandin. Also, sex releases lots of endorphins – the love hormone – and oxytocin (also used in hospital induction) which can give contractions a kick start.
Going for long walks, especially on sand or with one foot up and one foot down on a gutter, can help babies move lower in the pelvis and the physical activity often stimulates Braxton hicks, which can sometimes flick over to real contractions during your due range.
Clary sage oil
Burn a few drops in an oil burner or add a few drops to your hot bath. Can bring on contractions.
Raspberry leaf tea or tincture
Start drinking the tea or get the tincture from a herbalist anytime after 32 weeks. The tincture is apparently stronger so you probably shouldn’t start taking it until 36 weeks (take the advice of the naturopath). Thought to reduce the duration of labour and increase the efficiency if contractions.
Evening primrose oil
Alternate 2-3 capsules orally one day and then vaginally the next (push the capsules as far up as they will go). Ripens the cervix and may help start cervical dilatation.
Works on Chinese medicine theories of activating the points on the foot that correlate to different body organs. The ankles are particularly connected to the uterus. Make sure you see someone qualified to do pregnancy massage. Can help contractions to start. If nothing else, it is nice and relaxing.
Works in the same way as reflexology but uses different pressure points over the body to activate your uterus.
A naturopath or traditional Chinese medicine practitioner can give you different herbal remedies to take orally. Black and blue cohosh can be used to help contractions start. CAUTION: there have been harmful effects to mother and baby found from these plant extracts when taken incorrectly, so only use as prescribed by a qualified health care practitioner.
Drive on a bumpy road
Self-explanatory. The jolts can cause contractions to start.
Watch the movie “Three men and a baby”
Apparently lots of women go into labour after watching this movie. It is thought to be because of all the baby crying stimulating the release of labour hormones.
Hold a newborn baby
Same reason as above – release hormones.
Never ever try to break your waters
It is very dangerous when not done by skilled professionals. If the baby is in the wrong position, you could cause a cord prolapse which cuts the baby’s oxygen supply and could lead to brain damage or death. Not to mention the possibility of injury to yourself or your baby from sticking foreign sharp objects up your vagina. Just don’t do it.
Last of all, wait and be patient. The baby will not be in there forever. One way or another it has to come out. Try and fill your time with rest, preparing the baby’s room, pre-cooking and freezing meals, spending quality time with partner, friends and family, and enjoying the time you have now. Your life is about to change forever, enjoy every minute of the journey!
This post is dedicated to Bec. You hung in there and now have a beautiful daughter. Now, wasn’t it worth the wait? God bless xx