Want to go into labor? Try these tricks!
I’m ready. I’m past my due date by 5 days and hoping for labor to begin any minute. Actually I’ve been hoping for 3 weeks now, since I reached 37 weeks – the official “full term” date. That’s a fun little fact about pregnancy… you’re pregnant for 40-ish weeks (which, if each month is 4 weeks, actually comes out to 10 months, not 9) and due for 5 (between 37-42 weeks). Basically the due date is a giant guessing game that lets you know approximately which month you’ll give birth in, not the date you’ll do it on.
Another fun thing about pregnancy is that no matter how perfectly developed the baby is and no matter how ready you are, your body – not you – has 100% say in when you go into labor. Believe me, I have been pleading with this kid (as well as trying to bribe and sweet talk) for weeks and nothing. My body isn’t ready yet. I was born 3 weeks late (I’m sorry, Mom). My doctor’s policy is to go 1 week past the due date before induction, so if she hasn’t come out on her own by Friday, that’ll be my induction date.
Induction is a scary thing. There are a few different medical techniques and frankly none of them sound very appealing. I’ll let you go visit the site and read about them… talking about it makes me cringe since I’m likely going to end up having to get one of them done.
One thing you’ll find during pregnancy is that everyone is an expert and they all want to give you advice, whether you ask for it or not. Sometimes this is welcome! At the beginning you’ll get lots of advice on keeping yourself from puking the day away and getting rid of migraines. But then as you get to the end of your third trimester, and therefore are approaching labor and the birth of your spawn, you’ll be told LOTS of natural ways to “induce” labor. Most of these methods are used by midwives and frankly I can’t find much proof that they work other than anecdotal evidence.
Let’s discuss a few of the things you’ll be told to do by the maternal masses:
- Sex. Everyone loves to tell preggos to get it on. Obviously they’re willing to do it if they’re harboring a mini-human in their loins, right? Semen contains prostaglandins which can aid in ripening the cervix. Because of this, people think that having sex starts labor. It doesn’t. It helps the cervix prepare for dilation. This can happen up to a month before labor. Female orgasm is said to start contractions. This may be true, but if you’re the kind of woman who needs certain positions and movements to spark an orgasm, you’re likely not going to orgasm when you’re in the physical condition of a beached fucking whale.
On top of that, being told every god damn day to have sex when you’re more worried about peeing your pants when you sneeze (because you will) is the most obnoxious thing ever. To everyone who told me to go and get it on, despite seeing me say “no” to every mention of it for weeks: thanks, but blow me. Seriously, women. How is it helpful or in any way kind to tease people who are in pain? Maybe you had awesome timing and happened to do it as you were starting labor anyway or you didn’t feel like your lower abdomen was going to split in half and your organs were going to spill onto the floor. If that’s the case, good for you! I’m bloated, crampy, gassy and sore. Jumping on my husband’s dick is not going to make me feel better, whether it were to start labor or not. I personally enjoy sex for the fact that it feels good. I miss it terribly and so does my husband! We don’t want the last time we do it for 6 weeks (the recommended amount of time after birth before you go at it again) to be an experience which would lead to me crying and him literally seeing our daughter swimming around in my belly under him. If you’re comfortable with that, go right ahead but stop fucking telling me to do it.
- Walking. Walking is good for you. I don’t suggest NOT walking when you’re getting ready for labor, but don’t expect to go from not-in-labor to baby-head-popping-outta-your-vag by taking a walk around the block. One of the reasons walking is suggested is because hip movement can help the baby cram its way down into the birth canal (“dropping”). I support walking for health benefits, but it’s not going to start your labor if your body isn’t ready to start it on its own.
- Spicy Food. I love spicy food. The only thing that doesn’t give me heartburn, somehow, is spicy food. I eat it all the time. I am not in labor yet. Basically, people say that spicy food gets your digestive system working overtime, which in turn starts contractions. This is an old wives’ tale. Sure, I know some girls who went into labor after eating Mexican food. But there could be any number of other factors at play that just weren’t mentioned because since it’s said to work, it must – right? The thing is, if you’re not the type of person who typically eats spicy food or doesn’t handle it well, this is only going to make you ill. It doesn’t seem fair to anyone involved to force yourself to eat spicy food before labor. You’ll be uncomfortable and your doctor has a gross enough job to do.
- Castor Oil. Uggggh. Please don’t try this. This is along the same lines as spicy food but way more ridiculous. It “works” by causing contractions in your intestines because it gives you massive diarrhea. Also, it doesn’t necessarily work. There are more accounts of women trying it and crapping their brains out than trying it and popping a kid out. Why would you want to do this to yourself? You wouldn’t. And if anyone suggests it to you, they aren’t your friend. Another danger regarding castor oil is that sometimes people don’t read labels. I have seen warnings everywhere that promotes it as a form of natural induction to not drink castrol oil, like that which you would put in your car. Seriously.
- Nipple Stimulation. This isn’t necessarily false. Your body has all sorts of wacky tricks that it uses to make pregnancy and returning to pre-pregnancy shape possible. It’s been found that nipple stimulation through nursing your child releases oxytocin (one of the things used in medical induction) to return your uterus back to normal size. Because of this, some women use stimulation to release natural oxytocin and start labor contractions. The problem with it is that it’s possible to cause fetal distress by using this technique. When a doctor applies this method or IV oxytocin (Pitocin) in the hospital, you’re hooked up to all sorts of monitors to track the baby’s heart rate, etc, and if something goes wrong you’re in the hospital surrounded by doctors and nurses. If you do this at home and don’t know that your fetus is in distress because of strong contractions, it’s going unmonitored and that can be dangerous for the baby.
- Drink Semen. I wish I was joking. Earlier I was telling you about how semen contains prostaglandins, which help to ripen the cervix. Apparently some nutcase thinks that ingesting semen works just as well, if not better, than having it smeared on your cervix. How much would you have to drink for it to have an effect?! Elyse and I almost got ill discussing it earlier, as if you’d sit there with a cuppa-cum and sip it as you went about your daily business. I’ll tell you what… I don’t want to blow my husband right now and that’s ok. He wouldn’t let me if I did want to. It’s not a sexy time, being 40 weeks pregnant.
- Acupressure. At the beginning of pregnancy you’re told to avoid massaging certain parts on your lower legs and feet because they can trigger contractions and cause miscarriage or pre-term labor. I can tell you that I was all over the place massaging when my legs started to hurt and I didn’t once experience a contraction until I was supposed to. Elyse sent me an awesome link earlier relating to acupressure induced labor. The woman writing this was “skeptical” about acupressure until she found that the sales site she was looking at offered a money-back guarantee. Because that always means it works! Not only that, but when she gave it a try she went into labor 24 hours later. After she was already past her due date. So there’s no way she just naturally went into labor, because she had her partner poke certain parts of her body 24 hours before labor started, which means acupressure saved the day! Give me a fucking break.
Pregnancy kind of sucks, especially at the end. That said, it is completely worth the hassle. I’m the most impatient person ever. I don’t even like waiting 2 minutes for something to microwave. So you can imagine how I feel about being 5 days “late” to giving birth, considering this is a whole lot more uncomfortable than craving a Hot Pocket. The truth of the matter is, I appreciate people giving a shit whether or not I deliver the baby via induction. We’re glad you care and we’re glad that if we have questions about our pregnancies, you’re there to answer questions. But please, for fuck’s sake, do the next preggo a favor and don’t offer these bullshit “sure things”. They’re not proven, nor are they comforting, just because you know five women it worked for and all that’s happening is that I’m being reminded of how futile it is to think I can make her come out without medical intervention. The only way to induce labor is to have your OB do it in a medical setting. Sometimes we just want to complain. Let us do that without saying, “well you know what works?” because it doesn’t. I can almost guarantee it doesn’t work unless what you’re suggesting is going to the doctor.