Ways to Get Labor Going
It’s about that time!
So you have reached that point in your pregnancy where you need or want to get things going and you are wondering what your options are? While we as Doulas cannot prescribe or specifically recommend anything we can tell you what might help get your labor going.
Why might you want to get labor going?
The answer is simple, your due date is fast approaching and you may have a deadline or your due date has passed and you are hoping to avoid chemical/medical induction of labor. “Naturally inducing” labor is sort of an contradiction because induction in and of itself is not natural, but we understand that sometimes you reach that point where you want to take action. Some folks might be trying to avoid a chemical or medical induction of labor or hoping not to go too far over their estimated due date (EDD).
The average length of a first time pregnancy is at least 41 weeks, I know, what happened to the baby arriving on their due date?
“Pregnant women are routinely assigned a delivery date of about 280 days after the onset of their last menstrual period (LMP). Only 4% of women deliver at 280 days and only 70% deliver within 10 days of their estimated due date, even when the date is estimated by ultrasound”
Many women find that their due date is fast approaching or perhaps it has passed them by and they are pregnant and anxious to meet their little one! While we know that babies will arrive when their ready, and sometimes even chemical or medical inductions do not work if your baby is not ready, there may be some things you can do to help encourage labor to begin.
When your due date is fast approaching or it has passed here are a list of things that may help labor begin on their own:
Nipple Stimulation: Nipple Stimulation releases Oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone that also stimulates uterine contractions. This can be done with your hand or a pump, but remember to be careful and that if your body is not ready, your body will not respond.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: RRL Tea is a uterine stimulant, it is a great thing to take throughout the second and third trimesters to help prepare the uterus for labor. Remember to find a fresh source. Many women will use this in increased doses at the end of their pregnancy in conjunction with walking or nipple stimulation to encourage contractions.
Walking: Walking can be overdone, if we are being honest. A tired uterus can be an irritated uterus and walking can stimulate irritated contractions that are not causing progression. It is often best to try walking after a good nights rest so that if your body is ready, you will not start labor exhausted. Walking and nipple stimulation have been helpful for many women who are choosing to try and get things going on their own.
Orgasm: This is the part where many folks suggest sex as a way to help start labor, when in reality it is orgasm that releases oxytocin that will stimulate contractions and potentially help labor start. This can also help release prostaglandins which can help soften and ripen the cervix.
Acupuncture/Induction Massage: Both Acupuncture and Induction Massage can be used to help stimulate trigger points in the body that stimulate or start labor. Our clients love going to see Hannah Palmer LMT or Colleen Porter Acupuncture, LLC for induction support that is professional, often helpful and then they do not have to do it themselves.
Membrane Sweep: Have your provider preform a membrane sweep which will help release prostiglandins and sometimes stimulate labor to begin in 24 hours after it is done. Your provider will do a cervical exam and insert their finger into your cervix and separate the bag of waters from the cervix. This can be a helpful, minimally invasive option for women wanting to get things going starting around 40 weeks gestation, but it can be pretty uncomfortable and may cause spotting or your waters to rupture.
TIPS: Remember whatever it is you decide to do to try and begin labor yourself make sure you are rested, clear things with your care provider first, and ensure you are not alone when doing so. These tips are just tips and should not be taken as medical advice. Best of luck!
What if nothing works?
Sometimes these things do not work because the body is not ready to go into labor, but some women like to have a sense of control over what is going on and working to avoid a medical induction. For tips on a pitocin induction and what to expect and how to plan for your induction check out our blogs on those topics.