It can be stressful as you are approaching your due date and you show no signs to labor whatsoever.
While in most cases it is recommended to wait it out and let your baby come out when they are ready. Sometimes, when your body does not go into labor on its own, and if you are past 42 weeks, doctors recommend induction to bring on labor.
When Would You Be Induced?
Inducing labor is a serious decision and should be discussed with your midwife or doctor before you attempt inducing labor at home. If you have a healthy pregnancy, doctors generally will wait until two weeks past your due date before discussing induction with you.
According to Mayo Clinic, doctors recommend inducing labor when you are post-term (past two weeks after due date) or have some labor / pregnancy complications like high blood pressure,diabetes,or if there is a medical concern with the fetus or the mother.
There are many ways to induce labor medically. Doctors may give medicines, hormones or a medical procedure to soften the cervix and to bring out contractions. You can learn more about the medical protocols here.
Like many medical procedures, inducing labor comes with its own set of risks.
Some of the risks associated with labor induction are:
- Increased Risk of C section: When contractions become stronger, but the cervix is still ‘unripe,’ this might create some issue in the delivery of the baby. Subsequently, a C section might be required to get the baby out.
- Fetal Complications : When medicines are given to induce labor, fetal bio-metrics like fetal heartbeat rate are monitored continuously. When contractions get stronger fetal heart rate can fluctuate causing distress to the baby.
- Complications to the Mom: In some rare cases, induction can cause uterine rupture where the uterus tears open. Uterine rupture is a serious complication which will result in an emergency C section. Other maternal problems can be excessive bleeding or infections. (Source)
That’s why there needs to be a strong medical reason that outweighs the cons of labor induction. You will have to talk with your medical practitioner to discuss the induction needs along with the pros and cons of induction.
How to Induce Labor Naturally?
I am a big advocate of having a natural delivery without having to undergo any medical intervention. I have experienced labor and delivery with induction and also had a natural birth at the hospital, and I would say that the I felt thousand times better going the natural route, and I had a faster postpartum recovery.
Even when you are trying to get things to move naturally, it is essential to discuss it with your doctor or midwife because of the risks that we discussed above.
Even though there are no guaranteed ways to induce labor, there is enough anecdotal evidence to believe that these techniques might help you kick start labor.
Unless you were asked to bed rest, you should be moving and exercising throughout pregnancy. Gentle exercises like walking, sitting on the ball, swimming can help relax the back and hip muscles.
Squats and lunges can help the baby drop into the pelvis. Although be careful not to overdo it, you don’t want to be exhausted when the actual labor starts.
Sex during pregnancy is generally safe unless you are flagged high risk for pre-term labor or placenta problem that your doctor must have discussed with you.
Human semen contains hormones called Prostaglandins, which can dilute and soften the cervix in preparation of labor. Orgasm also releases Oxytocin, which helps the uterus to contract. This experiment found that having sexual intercourse did influence the start of labor and the mothers were able to avoid being medically induced at 41 weeks.
While there is no best sex position to try, you might want to avoid lying on your back for a more extended period. Other than that, choose a position that will work for you. The key is both of you attaining orgasm for hormones to be released to work the magic.
While you may not be so thrilled, your partner might be excited to get some action.
Nipple stimulation is another way to soften the cervix that is not as tedious as having sex at full -term. The theory is that stimulating nipples can mimic breastfeeding which signals the brain to release the hormone Oxytocin.
To massage your nipple, you can either use your hands or a suction silicon pump. I would avoid using electric breast pumps as you don’t want to over-stimulate your body too quickly.
With your hands, gently massage the aereola area in a circular motion to mimic baby sucking pattern. Start with massaging one breast at a time and see if you are having contractions.
It is recommended to stop massaging your nipple once you have contractions every 3 minutes. Please do not overdo it
I understand that you are worried about water breaking and hoping that everything goes well so that you can meet your little one soon. But, stressing about it is not going to help you get there, in fact, stress can hinder with the natural onset of labor.
Practice some relaxation techniques like listening to positive affirmations, meditation or even sleep can help prepare your body for the upcoming labor. This study stated this women who got ample of rest during the end of pregnancy had a positive influence on labor.
Certain foods are touted to help bring in labor. While there is no guarantee that this might work, it doesn’t hurt to try delicious food.
This sounds more like an old wive’s tale because there is not much scientific evidence to back up this claim. However, that doesn’t stop mom from trying. Some women have said this worked for them.
Probably, because spicy foods tend to stir your stomach and subsequently ended up triggering your uterus, so, go ahead, add some spice to your meals!
This experiment concluded that women who regularly ate dates for 4 weeks prior to labor had higher cervical dilation, went into labor spontaneously and required less intervention.
Date fruits are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and good fiber. Women have found that eating dates after 37 weeks had an easier and shorter labor. You can eat raw dates or eat them combined with oatmeal or a smoothie. Dates are naturally sweet so if you have gestational diabetes, check with your is it’s ok to take dates.
Try to take only organic dates because they contain no artificial sweetening.
During early pregnancy, my doctor told me to avoid eating pineapple. Pineapple is known to contain an enzyme; bromelain can bring about uterine contractions. On the other hand, the proteolytic enzyme also helps ripen the cervix.
It is recommended to eat fresh pineapples rather than the canned ones because some enzymes may be destroyed during the canning process. You can either consume fresh pineapple slices or fresh juice or blend it as a smoothie.
Pineapple is generally considered safe to eat at later pregnancy when consumed in moderation. Some women, however, might experience stomach upset, heartburn or diarrhea.
6.Red Raspberry Leaf Tea:
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is an excellent herbal tea that has many benefits for pregnant women. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is believed to tone your uterus, but it can be used to induce labor naturally. Because of its toning properties, it is generally recommended only during the second and third trimester.
Choose an organic tea, like this one, because they would have no fillers and more authentic which will give better results.
Membrane stripping is a medical procedure, wherein your doctor will put their fingers inside your cervix to separate amniotic sac and fetal membranes from the uterine wall. This, in turn, will trigger the release of hormones like prostaglandins that is needed to soften the cervix and induce labor.
I have not had my membrane stripped, but it does not look like a comfortable procedure. Talk to you doctor to see if this is something you would want to consider.
Let’s Wrap Up:
Waiting past your due date is exhausting. If you want to have a natural birth, minimize the chances of having a medical induction and go into labor naturally, these tips discussed above can come in handy.
Please talk to your doctor before you try any method discussed above at home.
Do share your experience with me! Were you past your due date and tried any of these methods? Did it work?