Nov 12, 2020

Strategies for Natural Induction

Since hitting 8 months of pregnancy earlier this week (whoot!) I've been thinking more and more about the fact that there's a decent chance I'll have a baby in my arms next month. I'm torn between not feeling quite ready yet, and being quite excited to finish pregnancy and begin the next adventure.

Healthy pregnancy advice

Babies come when they want, so of course I know this is wishful thinking, but my ideal day for her to come would be New Year's Eve. 

With third trimester fatigue, which has been sending me to bed by 9 or 10pm most nights, being actively in labor is the only way I'll manage to stay up until midnight! She'll also be 39 weeks at that point, which is fully cooked.

Maternity photoshoot ideas

But... both my husband and I were late, as were all of our siblings. Looking at familial history, it seems that I have a decent shot of going until 41+ weeks if I just go with the flow. 

My husband was so comfy in-utero that his mother had to be medically induced to have him at all! If possible, I'd like to avoid that. 

Strategies for natural induction pregnancy

For starters, I'd prefer she comes a week early to a week late. I'm ready to be the sole occupant of my body again!

On top of that, induction via pitocin can trigger stronger contractions than you'd otherwise having, making it more difficult to avoid an epidural and the intervention cascade. 

While I understand that every labor is unique and things will likely change on the day, my ideal birth plan is a medication-free vaginal delivery.

Third trimester pregnancy

Around 38 weeks (but not on Christmas Eve/Christmas!) I'll begin trying some natural induction strategies. 

Some of the strategies I'm going to share (and try) have more scientific research backing them than others - for example, both eating 6+ dates daily and drinking raspberry leaf tea are associated with shorter, "easier" labors, and have been shown in multiple studies to help with cervical ripening. 

Smiling pregnant woman

Other things, like bouncing on a ball or walking up stairs sideways, don't have the same backing and are more folklore. I'll try it all to get this baby out a little early or on time!

Eating 6+ dates daily

32 weeks pregnantI'm a big fan of dates, so I see no reason not to do this one. Especially because it's one of the few labor kick-starting strategies with a solid amount of scientific research backing it up!

While the research does not, unfortunately, support that eating dates induces labor, they do find that regular date consumers have significantly shorter labors, due to a shortening of the first stage of labor. 

To have an effect, you'll need to eat at least 6 dates every day for the last 4-6 weeks of your pregnancy. 

I've already been enjoying dates here and there, just because I like them, but starting at 34 weeks on the dot (that's in less than two weeks!) I'll start making sure to get them in every day. 

Some of my favorite ways to eat dates are with a nut butter (usually almond butter or peanut butter, as those are the ones we have in the house), stuffed with nuts (peanuts or walnuts), stuffed with dark chocolate, or chopped over Greek yogurt. 

If you're not a big fan of dates, you can try hiding them in smoothies (bonus: they'll naturally sweeten the smoothie), wrapping them in bacon, stuffing them with cream cheese, or eating date-rich bars like Lara bars. 

Drinking raspberry leaf tea

I've heard raspberry leaf tea's effects likened to a workout for your uterus. It helps with uterine tone, and having a 'fitter' uterus can help make contractions more effective!

How to have a healthy pregnancy

Plus it actually tastes really good, especially lightly sweetened with honey or stevia. I've been enjoying a nice cuppa' since right around the beginning of the third trimester, but usually stick to just a cup of tea a day.

When it gets closer to the big day, I'll try to scale up to a more targeted 2-3 cups every single day. We'll see if it helps!

Taking long walks

Maternity photoshoot ideas
I love to walk. It's relaxing, clears my mind, and is a great way to get around a city (like NYC, where my husband and I live). During pregnancy it's also been the only form of exercise that's been comfortable and enjoyable for me. 

I've been staying active with a casual walk most mornings, but in that last week I'll kick it up to longer walks. We've all heard a story of someone who walked five or six miles and then went into labor that night! 

This strategy does not have scientific backing, but it's one that we want to believe works because it intuitively sounds like it would. Exertion and all that jostling seems like it'd make it a little less chill for baby to hang out in the womb for ages, so she'll release her fibronectin and start labor. Right?

I'm skeptical, but I think it's worth a try! 

Walking up stairs sideways

I believe this has something to do with the posture opening up your pelvis and encouraging the baby to engage in the correct position for labor. 

I don't think I'll do this one for any real amount of time, but we have a quiet staircase in our apartment so I might grab a book and give it a go.

Bouncing on an exercise ball

Again, I'm not sure exactly how/why this one should do anything... but we have an exercise ball and it's easy enough to sit on one for a bit while watching a show or reading something, so I'll give it a go!

Eating spicy food

32 weeks pregnant

I'm so bad at spicy food! I'm skeptical that this one does anything to induce labor, but it's an old wives tale that it does and maybe if I eat some spicy food while our little one is still gestating she'll be better at tolerating spice later in life than I am. Who knows! 

We have some sriracha and wasabi waiting in the fridge, and maybe I'll order Korean food.

Eating pineapple

You'd have to eat copious amounts of pineapple core for the enzyme in question to have any effect on your uterus, but pineapples are delicious and they're one of those things that I like but never really buy, so I'll eat some (not the core) when the time comes. Can't hurt, right?

Foot/ankle massage (acupressure points)

I haven't had a prenatal massage or even a pedicure because of covid (boo) so it's been quite a while since I last enjoyed the relaxation of having all my tension rubbed away. But when it's time to encourage labor, giving myself a mini-massage could be helpful!

There are a few acupressure points on the feet/ankles that masseuses tend to avoid because they're believed to stimulate contractions (this is not scientifically proven). Those are the ones I'll seek out!

There's SP6, a point on the back of your calf about 6 inches above your inner lower ankle bone.

There's BL60, a point in the space between your ankle bone and your Achilles tendon.

There's BL67, a point on the outer edge of your pinky toe, right where the nail bed starts.

Natural induction pregnancy

There are also a couple on your hands!

There's PC8, a point in the dead center of your palm.

There's LI14, a point in the webbed skin between your thumb and pointer finger, right below the pointer finger knuckle.

If you run your fingers down your spine until you feel an indentation, near the base of your spine right before your bum starts to curve out, you've found BL32. Massaging BL32 firmly downwards has been found by one small study to shorten labor

Up in the middle of your shoulder muscle, above your collar bone, you'll find GB21. This point is also believed to induce labor and, when used during contractions, may help with pain management. 

At the end of the day, our baby is going to come when she's ready. Babies don't take kindly to eviction notices. Still, I'll have fun trying to coax her out!

Moms, did you try any natural induction strategies with your kid(s)? Which one(s)?

12 comments:

  1. Interesting! I tried the tea with my first, and spicy foods, exercise ball, walking, and stairs. It didn't work but I think that may have been because she turned wrong to engage labor (sunny side up) With my second, the doctor was able to do a mucosal sweep a few days before I was due and it put me into labor in 24 hours!

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    1. Wow, that's really quick! Thanks for sharing your experience. :)

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  2. These are all great tips! I love dates too, such a great healthy treat!

    Eileen | yesmissy.com

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    1. They're so good! Medjool are my favorite, but since I'll be eating so many I'll mix in some deglet noor too.

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  3. Good luck! I've heard of people doing pretty much all of the above but that's only when they've been 41+ and desperate for labour to happen. I hope you get a delivery date close to what you're hoping for x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! And I know, I'm totally getting ahead of myself... patience has never been my strength!

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  4. I always love reading about things like this and if it's easy to do...why not??
    XOOX
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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  5. I'm hearing some of these for the first time. I hope your delivery goes smooth. Take care!
    xoxo
    Lovely
    www.mynameislovely.com

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  6. I never heard of some of these but I did eat a lot of spicy food and walked a lot my last trimester. Best of luck with your delivery!

    Jill - Doused in Pink

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