If you have read some of blog posts from the later weeks of my pregnancy I think you will see that I was getting quite impatient about meeting the newest addition to our family. I really didn’t enjoy being pregnant this time round. There was a lot of anxiety that was in no way helped with my lack of sleep. During my last midwife appointment before I gave birth my midwife, Lucy, hit the nail on the head for me. She said that I had been carrying this baby for 9 months and keeping him safe and now it was time to share the burden of responsibility with the rest of the family!
In my impatience I found myself, as I am sure many preggo ladies do, trawling through lists online of natural ways to induce labour. With my first 2 pregnancies I didn’t get to the desperate to get the baby our stage but this time I arrived at this stage at about 35 weeks pregnant. I had got it into my head that the baby would arrive a bit early so from about that time I really wanted him to come out. During my middle of the night googling I came across several lists of ways to induce labour and I did try quite a few of these. I was sensible and didn’t do anything too inducy until I was 38 weeks pregnancy. Anyway I thought it’d be good to go through what I tried and to tell you what worked and what didn’t…
Raspberry Leaf Tea
Raspberry Leaf Tea is taken by pregnant women as it is thought to help to tone the muscles in your womb resulting in them working more effectively. It isn’t something that will induce labour but taking it is supposed to make labour quicker.
I started drinking Raspberry Leaf Tea at 32 weeks pregnant, for the first week I had 1 cup a day and then increased this week by week to 3 cups a day. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the taste of it as when I pregnant with Eilys I couldn’t stand it! I drank Raspberry Leaf Tea with both my previous pregnancies so figured that I should do it again for this pregnancy too. I would brew 3 cups worth up along with a bag of peppermint tea, then I’d let it cool and added my spatone to it and drink it throughout the day, lush! Don’t I sound rock and roll!! Basically it was ice tea. I made myself drink this every day and the only think that it definitely helped with was going for a wee more but with a baby pushing down on my bladder I didn’t require help with this at all. I have no real idea if it works or not but all 3 of my labours have had short 2nd stages (40mins, 20min and 10mins).
There is research that suggests that by eating 6 dates a day from 36 weeks pregnant pregnancies are less likely to go past their due date. I was a bit dubious but this has actually been proven to work in a scientific study here Dates are natural laxatives so this also stimulates uterine contractions and also in the later stages of pregnancy a natural laxative is always helpful!
I started having 6 dates a day from 36 weeks pregnant. I remembered to munch them most days (when Joe hadn’t snaffled them). Having been induced before 40 weeks pregnant with my first 2 pregnancies I have no idea when they would have come naturally but Evan was 1 day over his due date (and we know how incorrect due dates can be) so that’s not too bad! I ate a few dates during labour as well, they are full of natural sugars and give a good source of energy. Luckily I really like dates but if you don’t then I don’t see they wouldn’t have the same effect if you made them into a sticky toffee pudding instead.
The thinking/science behind this is that after giving birth the baby’s natural instinct is to latch onto a boob and have a feed so in doing this causes the uterus to start to contract. This is because that initial boobfeed stimulates the release of oxytocin which makes the uterus start to contract. So by rubbing or rolling your nipples you can actually induce labour or if you are already in labour, you can make your contractions longer and stronger.
I didn’t really try this as a method of labour induction but I did bank colostrum from 36 weeks pregnant so that I would have a store for after Evan was born. Obviously in doing this I was stimulating my nipples. I don’t think that this did much for me to be honest. I didn’t feel any different after hand expressing to get the colostrum out. There is a lot of scaremongering about expressing colostrum and that it’ll make you go into premature labour but I don’t really think this is the case (in my opinion anyway).
Swapping your usual comfy spot on the sofa for a birth ball can helped to bring the baby’s head into your cervix. By swaying, doing circles, bouncing or doing figure of eights with your hips on the ball are all excellent ways of encouraging the baby to engage and for them to get themselves in a good birth position.
I spent many an hour on my birth ball. Every one of my pregnancies I have bought a new ball. My spot on the sofa got more and more uncomfortable during the last few weeks of pregnancy so I did use the birth ball as a seat more and more. I swayed, I circled, I bounced, I wrote 8’s over and over and over with my hips. Making figure of 8’s with my hips is one of the hardest physical things I have ever done and I can only conclude that my hips are dyspraxic, it took a good few weeks to get it right. I used my birth ball to exercise with during pregnancy doing simple workouts and yoga with it. I used the birth ball a lot during the last 2 hours of labour, I sat on it, I lent on it. I have no idea if it helped to bring on labour but it really did help with my state of mind enabling me to be more comfortable through the later stages.
Walking is another way that the baby is encouraged to move down towards your cervix. As your walk the pressure of the baby’s head on your cervix can cause your body release oxytocin which can help to trigger contractions.
I walk a lot, all the time. I very rarely use the car or public transport to get about. During the last 5 or 6 weeks of pregnancy walking caused me some discomfort, a bit of pain, pressure and Braxton hicks contractions. I still tried to walk as much as possible but sometimes it was tricky! I think some days I must have looked a little bit bonkers walking around and stopping, starting again, wincing etc.
To Do List
My midwife suggested that I wrote down all the things that I needed to get done before the baby arrives and then work my way through the list as a means of mentally preparing for the birth. So I made a list, then I completed that list so I added other things to it etc. I made about 10 different lists in the end and completed them all. It did help me mentally prepare for the arrival and during labour I didn’t have tasks weighing on my mind.
Planning to do things
I figured that if I planned to do things then sods law would kick in and I would go into labour. I was also trying to keep busy so that Dylan didn’t get bored during his summer holidays. As a method of inducing labour it wasn’t the best, haha. I had planned to go to a family day at the local park during the day on the day that I went into labour and I was supposed to take Dylan to a firework display that night so maybe it did kind of work!
Acupressure is a bit like acupuncture except instead of needles being stuck into the areas you apply pressure. By applying pressure to certain areas it is thought that you can release oxytocin and other areas are thought to encourage the baby to move into the birth canal.
My midwife showed me the areas to apply pressure to and how to do it and I watched a few YouTube videos as well. Most of the pressure points are on the feet or the legs and I applied pressure to the various spots a couple of times a day from 38 weeks pregnant. Some of these pressure points were a little bit sore when they were manipulated but most felt alright. A few times doing this cause some Braxton hicks contractions which was quite exciting! Once I was in the latent stage of labour I did some Acupressure as well to help things along a little bit and it helped me relax.
Like with walking and using a gym ball , yoga is used to bring the baby into a good position for labour. Yoga is also great for relaxing your body and stretching out muscles that you will need to carry your baby and that you’ll use in labour.
I tried to do little bits of yoga for relaxation during my pregnancy and towards the last few weeks I used a YouTube video “workout” to help prepare my body for birth. I loved it! It was so relaxing and made my body feel so nice afterwards. I tried another workout that was said to help bring on labour during the last week of my pregnancy but I found it harder to do and not as relaxing (it can be found here). I used a lot of the movements and positions during labour to help with the contractions and I think it probably helped as I felt a bit more in control.
Clary Sage Oil
A lot of folk swear by Clary Sage Oil as a method of stimulating the start of contracts as it is thought to encourage contractions and again it helps release oxytocin. My midwife advised that I could burn it in an oil burner or pop a few drops in a bath or a few drops in some carrier oil and then massaged into the skin. Some women also pop some drops on a handkerchief (or a bit of tissue, no one has hankies these days…) and smelt during labour as a way to enhance labour and contractions.
This is another thing that I tried before. The night before I went into labour with Dylan I had a sniff of my bottle of Clary Sage and then my waters broke about 5 hours later… I am not saying the 2 are linked at all , in fact I doubt that they are! This time I had it burning in my oil burner for a few days before I went into labour, I dropped it into a few of my baths and I used it for a massage. I really liked the smell of it too which was a bonus. I also used it on a tissue in labour and I definitely felt like it intensified my contractions.
When you are in the latter weeks of labour it seems almost impossible for people to tell you that sex will bring on labour. People have told me this so many times that I am pretty sure it is a law that I know nothing about! The nitty-gritty of it is that orgasms can stimulate the uterus to start contracting and semen can help soften or ripen the cervix to help it get ready to open… so there you have it…
Honestly during the last weeks of labour sex is quite low down on the list of things that a pregnant lady wants to be doing. But you know, everything is worth a try right. And we’ll leave that there…
Another thing that EVERYONE suggests to get a baby to make an appearance is curry or spicy food. I even had a text from one of my Uncle’s suggesting I go for a vindaloo. As spicy foods are thought to irritate the stomach which then prompts the uterus to start doing its thang.
I did up my intake of spicy food. I started slathering all my food with siracha sauce in the weeks leading up to my due day. I added chilli powder to my food. The day before I went into labour we went to Pizza Hut for the buffet and I had chilli on everything! Possibly this did help bring on labour as I have never eaten this much chilli in my life in one sitting. I had chilli on the pizza, on my salad and drizzled everything in chilli oil. I was on fire but really enjoyed it and as a result I have been eating a lot of spicy food since having Evan. However, I did regret my actions the day after as I was a bit punished when I went to the loo (TMI…)
Doing something embarrassing
Along the same lines as the to do list and planning things, I figured that if I did something embarrassing I might end up going into to labour. The night before I went into labour I curled my hair. I fancied a bit of a change and thought that if I curled my hair that it would look all wavy and cute the following day. WRONG. I looked a bit like Annie but less ginger. And then I was in labour and I looked deranged. The only reason I had a bath in the afternoon was to wash the curls out of my hair!!
Basically, babies come when they are ready. No one knows when a baby is going to make an appearance by trying all these things I might have induced labour naturally or I might have delayed it, or this might have been when I was going to go into labour regardless. Trying lots of things did keep me occupied and the walking, yoga and gym ball really helped me feel better mentally and physically. If you are getting ansy at the end of pregnancy and you want to try to bring on labour naturally then firstly you should defo ask your midwife or healthcare provider for advice. Or just style your hair a bit crazy and see if that brings the baby out.. who knows, maybe it is a thing! Worth a go right?!
Thanks for reading!