Even though I’ve only had one baby, I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that every pregnant woman reaches a point where they just-want-it-out…like yesterday. For me , that point was about one week before my due date. I couldn’t handle the sleepless nights, the constant back pain, puffy feet, and all the other strange aches and pains that come with carrying a 7 lb bowling ball in your belly. Plus, I just really wanted to meet Torin😊.
I was very adamant about not wanting to have a medically (Pitocin) induced labor, which my OB did offer me. For those of you not familiar with inductions, they oftentimes have complications for mom and baby, due to the uterus not being primed for labor before contractions begin. Complications can include prolonged and extremely painful contractions, increased chance of fetal distress, and increased bleeding. There are times when inductions are medically necessary, but oftentimes they are not and women still choose to induce (which is crazy to me).
I was gigantic my last week of pregnancy (I didn’t even look at the scale at my last appt because I thought it would be too painful). This is me 3 days before Torin was born.
Huge. Enough was enough. My little man had to be evicted.
Anyway, after doing way too much research on the interwebs I found several ways to induce labor naturally at home. I’m sure everyone has heard that castor oil works, but that seems terrible. Why would someone want to get violently sick, right before they go through childbirth? Castor oil was not an option for me.
What worked for me was a blend of several methods, that worked together to relax the uterus, create natural oxytocin, and get baby T engaged, so he was ready to go. At my 39 wk appt I was 1 cm dilated, and 50% effaced, and my OB had told me I might need to go ahead and pick a date for induction after my due date, because it looked like Torin was in there for the long haul. Ummm what? No I don’t think so. I told Dr. Meisinger “he’s been in there 9 months, he’s not staying a day longer.” He laughed… but I was serious.
A combination of the following methods resulted in me going into labor within 48 hours, so it could be coincidence, but I really think these helped.
1. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
I credit this method, more than any other, for my rapid labor.I began drinking this tea at 35 weeks and in those last few days made a concentrated tonic that helped kick my contractions into high gear. Red Raspberry Leaf tea has been used by many cultures for centuries to help tone and prime the uterus for labor. The tea targets the uterine muscles and strengthens them so they can contract more efficiently. It doesn’t so much “induce” labor as make it more steady, even-paced, and controlled. In other words, it won’t start your contractions but it will keep the slightest contraction going so that labor can keep moving along.
Some midwives warn against using this tea throughout pregnancy, but almost all agree on its benefits when taken in the third trimester. The concentrated tonic i used was made by steeping 6 tea bags in 24 ounces of water. I used the Traditional Medicinals brand, which you can find here but any brand will work. Unfortunately, it doesn’t taste like raspberries and is a little earthy. It seriously works though. If you don’t believe me, just Google it. Another benefit of drinking this tea regularly throughout the day is it will keep you hydrated, which will definitely help you once you’re in labor.
2. Pineapples, all the Pineapple
Do you love pineapple, I know I do. What about pineapple cores? Although, much less tasty than its outer flesh counterpart and strangely fibrous, pineapple cores contain a high concentration of bromelain. Bromelain is a naturally occurring substance that releases prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like lipids that cause contractions, so ingesting bromelain can actually help start contractions. The kicker is, you have to eat a lot of it… like 3 pineapples worth of cores. Honestly, I was so hungry (and desperate!) I would’ve eaten more, I just stopped at 3 because that’s all I had bought. The morning before T-man arrived, I ate all three pineapple cores with my Red Raspberry Leaf Tonic. Not super tasty, but very effective.
3. Walking, Walking, Walking
Continuous movement is another great way to naturally induce labor. The day before I had Torin, Trevor and I took a trip to Target and I walked laps around the store (with the aid of a shopping cart and a decaf grande latte). Within hours I was having real labor contractions, true story.
Constant vertical movement does two things that help begin labor. The first is that gravity helps settle the baby into a prime birthing position. Doing pelvic circles on an exercise ball will do the same thing. The second is, with the baby’s head engaged, the rhythmic movement against the cervix will help release oxytocin and cause effacement.
So, these are what worked for me. At the end of the day every woman is different, but anything that can release prostaglandins is a good place to start when trying to induce labor. I’d love to know what has worked for other ladies out there so please leave a comment if you have suggestions for my other readers!