For all you heavily pregnant mamas out there:
Do you have a secret fear that you’re going to be pregnant forever?
No, I have not all of a sudden become a mind-reader. I know what you are thinking because I have spent a great many hours of my adult life around heavily pregnant women. And guess what? Almost all of you share this secret fear. I have looked into enough of your eyes and asked this question, to be answered with a laugh and a sigh of relief that someone gets it: Yes, yes, yes.
There are many great articles out there about How to Naturally Induce Labor. What I would like to share with you today is not information you will scramble to find when you are already overdue. There is no magic sauce that you can drink to put you into labor if you and your baby aren’t almost ready to go yourselves. All of the tools listed here are for your use much earlier in the process … to get you, your body and your baby all in synch for labor at the earliest possible time that YOU ARE ALL READY. These natural, gentle tools are just tuning your whole system (mind/body/soul/baby) to the note of:
Baby Come Soon, You are Welcome and Wanted.
Monica, a licensed acupuncturist and doula who specializes in acupuncture for baby making, baby growing, and baby having (I’m not sure she calls it like that, but she is amazing), shared with us her wealth on the subject here. In summary:
- Acupuncture treatments can stimulate labor in a woman who is past her due date.
- Research has shown that acupuncture takes from 3 to 60 hours to initiate contractions. At least two treatments are recommended (my well-trained and experienced acupuncturist Nicole started treating me at 37 weeks, not to induce labor but to get my body ready and balanced for its task ahead)
- Acupuncture can also reduce the amount of pain felt during labor, and shorten the overall labor process.
My favorite herbs to prepare the body for labor are Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and Nettle.
RED RASPBERRY LEAF:
- Studies have shown that women who take red raspberry leaf have a reduced incidence of birth interventions. Research has also found that women who drink red raspberry leaf tea regularly towards the end of their pregnancies had shorter second stages of labour than those who don’t.
- As a uterine tonic, RRL also helps to prevent postpartum hemorrhage.
- Diminishes pain during and after birth. The high calcium content, which is readily assimilated, helps diminish muscle pains in the uterus, in the legs and elsewhere.
- Prevents hemorrhage after birth. Nettle is a superb source of vitamin K, and increases available hemoglobin, both of which decrease the likelihood of postpartum hemorrhage. Fresh Nettle Juice, in teaspoon doses, slows postpartum bleeding.
NOTE: There are other herbs and natural remedies, such as blue and black cohosh and castor oil, that I don’t recommend unless managed by a skilled practitioner (due to undesirable side effects).
Photo by Chelsea Jean
Flood Your Brain With Oxytocin
Oxytocin, the love hormone, is a hormone that also helps the uterus to contract. The artificial form of this hormone is Pitocin, which is a commonly used labor induction agent. During sexual arousal, oxytocin increases rapidly, with a big burst at orgasm. In fact, in women, the strength of orgasm is directly correlated with the amount of oxytocin.
For more info, read Get It On!
- Gentle rubbing or rolling of the nipple, or suckling of the nipples to encourage contractions and begin labor.
- Breastfeeding a baby is another activity that floods your brain and body with oxytocin! The technique used for nipple stimulation should as closely resemble a baby breastfeeding as possible.
- For good techniques, start here.
Eat Pineapple & Dates
- Tropical fruits like pineapple, mango and papaya contain a proteolytic enzyme called bromelain. This enzyme is said to help soften the cervix, stimulate muscle contractions, and for shortening labor. (from the Humbled Homemaker)
- This interesting study found that women who ate dates regularly at the end of pregnancy were more likely to be admitted in labor with a greater cervical dilation, as well as intact membranes (ruptured membranes before regular contractions is a common cause for medical labor induction).
- Mamas that ate dates during later pregnancy were found to be less likely to have their labors induced or augmented with medication.
Birth Affirmations, via Desert Birth and Wellness
Finish Your Unfinished Business
If you haven’t already, please read Spiritual Midwifery. It is the absolute best explanation I know about the mind-body connection during labor. The importance of a positive relationship with your husband, the baby’s father if he is involved, or peace in your heart if he is not, cannot be overstated. A community of love and support, of family if possible, or a strong group of friends, fellow mamas, or fellowship is incredibly important. If these words fill you with a sense of dread rather than peace, then please seek a supportive and empowering counselor or therapist to explore these issues. AND HIRE A DOULA!
Photo by Emily Weaver Brown
One of the most telling questions a woman can ask her midwife or doctor during prenatal care is this: When and why do you induce labor? If the answer is, When you’re greater than 39 weeks, then alarms should start ringing in your ears. More and more research has shown that inducing a woman with an unfavorable cervix (a cervix that is not ready for labor!) puts her at incredibly high risk for an unplanned C-Section.
You should love your midwife or doctor. You should trust your midwife or doctor. And they should demonstrate that THEY TRUST YOU. They should inform you of every birth option, they should listen to your opinion, and they should respect that you know what’s best for you and your baby. If you don’t feel all that all those things are true about your provider, then strongly consider hiring a new one. It’s your body, your baby, and your birth: you deserve the best, sister friend.
Hire A Doula
Like this video shares, Doulas are magical fairy goddesses that make everything better about having a baby. If you hire a doula, you will be more likely to experience spontaneous labor, you will feel less pain during labor, you will be less likely to need an epidural, you will be more likely to have a normal vaginal delivery, and you will enjoy a deeper bond with your baby. Is there anything else you might need from your birth experience? Your future doula is here to serve!
Photo by Yogini Momma
Talk to Your Baby
- Celebrate your baby with a Blessingway.
- No matter how unprepared (or ambivalent) you feel about her upcoming arrival, tell your baby that she is wanted, and loved, and welcome.
- Speak to the deepest part of your heart, and remind yourself: I can do this. I don’t know how, but my heart does. My heart will teach me how to be the best mother for my baby.
- Tell your baby: YOU ARE SAFE HERE. I CAN’T WAIT TO HOLD YOU IN MY ARMS.
I need more time,
I say, my first opening.
“There is no such thing as time here,” the spirit-voice, or pre-baby answers.
We can’t afford another baby –
The rational/accountant mind responds
“I am coming to you not for what you will buy me,” counters the pre-babe.
I do really love you.
(My heart softens the edges of my mind)
“My intention is not to make you poor, but to enrich your life beyond your hopes. I am coming to show you what your love looks like.”
– Jeannine Parvati Baker