My due date was on Saturday and after several weeks of constant anticipation, my husband and I are beginning to lose our cool. Every time I make progress on a project at work, my poor coworkers get CCed or forwarded emails with subject lines like “FYI” or “Open In Case of Baby”.
As a distraction this weekend, I decided to start trying out some of the old wives tales about inducing labor. I tried to source these tales from some of the pregnancy guide books I found from the early 20th century, but none of the books I found addressed the superstitions. The Social Darwinist authors of Searchlights on Health: The Science of Eugenics have a lot to say about how to educate your child in the womb, how to avoid “marking” your child with emotional trauma in utero, and other weird things that have no basis in “science” as they claim. But nothing about inducing labor. The Mother and Her Child gives extensive advice on how to deliver the child if the doctor is detained – fascinating and terrifying – but no advice on how to get the baby to come.
Never fear. There is never any lack of women asking for advice on how to get labor to begin. I’ve seen multiple posts on Facebook mom groups and a cursory web search gained many, many hits. Here are a few things that we’ve tried.
Walk the Baby Out
I’ve been doing a lot of walking recently. This is a strategy that many different sources mention – from pregnancy books to message boards to websites. It is safe as long as you don’t fatigue yourself and when I move around, I do get Braxton Hicks (practice!) contractions.
Lena would be pleased with me. She recommends walking, not for inducing labor but for taking in the air. On Saturday, my dear friend Ally and I walked for a solid hour around the lake behind her house and it was so beautiful. As much as I intended to make fun of Lena Sadler’s 1920 pregnancy book, she did have a few things to say that make sense (her whole parenting advice section about spoiling children is outdated at best, abusive at worst, but her prenatal advice is largely sound). There is something to be said for getting back to nature. And it’s the perfect season to do it.
Throughout my pregnancy I have suffered from pretty severe heartburn. In November, I had to go to urgent care because my reflux had burned my esophagus. Zantac has been my very best friend but I have been avoiding acidic and spicy foods like the plague ever since.
I broke the rules on Friday in an effort to try the spicy food technique. The idea is that the spice “fires up the bowels” and can spur the uterus to contract. I continue to be skeptical at best but it was a great excuse to have my favorite Masamun curry at Supatra’s.
Today I continued to break the rules, eating some amazing and delicious spicy salsa from a food truck for lunch. It certainly did “fire” things up but we have yet to see if any labor comes from it. I think it’s safe to say that the spicy food myth is just that – a myth.
Similar to spicy food, another old strategy to induce labor is to drink castor oil. Castor oil is a laxative and works under the same theory, that it will “fire up the bowels” and cause the uterus to begin contractions. I didn’t try this. Labor seems like a really bad time to be under the influence of laxatives.
Last week, one of my coworkers was chatting with me about when the baby was coming. (A pool has begun among them as to when TR will arrive. All of the guess dates have now passed.) She was very excited to join the pool as she had very specific ideas about how the gender of the baby and the phase of the moon would determine how early or late he would be. She said that statistically, more babies are born on the full moon. Duke Health determines this a myth. The AAP agrees: “Despite persistent reports of an association among the lunar cycle, gravitational pull and childbirth, careful statistical analyses have failed to identify an increase in the number of births during a full moon.”
I also agree because my baby was not born on the full moon. I got up in the middle of the night, looked at that moon, and then grumbled all the way back to bed, pregnant as ever.
Duke Health notes that a change in barometric pressure could actually have a correlation with an increase of births, unlike the phase of the moon. There’s a storm tonight so I guess we’ll find out!
Raspberry Leaf Tea
A bunch of people recommend raspberry leaf tea to “ready the womb for delivery” and induce labor. I bought Pregnancy Tea a few weeks ago and drank it for a few days before I realized that, among some circles, it is believed to induce labor. While my womb feels pretty ready (as far as I can tell), the tea has not caused any contractions. It’s just yummy and herby and nice.
I’ve now drank all of the pregnancy tea. So much for that!
Drive on a Bumpy Road
This one is supposed to bounce the baby into position and even break your water. Given the terrible potholes wrought upon Minnesota roads through the winter, spring is a great time to find bumpy roads to drive on. We didn’t even need to plan to find a particularly bumpy road to drive on; it just keeps happening.
A couple of very bumpy roads we recommend: Ayd Mill Road, 94 westbound between Oakdale and St. Paul, and West 7th Street.
While I did get a contraction while driving on 94 West, no progressive labor has set in as a result of bumpy road driving.
Now this one is really, really superstitious and came from my Ovia pregnancy app, of all places.
To try: Murphy’s law of labor. It says that if you start working on something that absolutely can’t be interrupted, you’re bound to go into labor right away! So settle in with a complicated project.
On Saturday, my husband and I bought tickets for a play on Mother’s Day. As soon as I finished paying for the tickets, as we were walking out, I said, “Now watch me go into labor now that we bought these tickets and made a plan.”
It didn’t work.
But we did have a wonderful Mother’s Day! My husband got me flowers (even though I technically missed the deadline) and we brought my mom to the show, which was very fun! Sweet Land at the History Theater – I especially liked that the musicians were incorporated as characters in the story.
Ultimately, I don’t believe that any of these strategies actually do much to induce labor. In fact, I think the whole point of this is that we can’t control the situation. We must wait. There is a lesson in the waiting.
As impatient as I feel, I know this won’t last much longer than a week and that is okay. That is manageable. I’m not on bed rest. I’m uncomfortable but I’m overall healthy and I can still work. My feet, while swollen, still fit into my shoes that lace or buckle. TR tends to feel like he’s literally trying to swim out and the only way to capture the feeling of all this is to imagine exploding in slow motion. But that is perhaps dramatic because despite the fact that none of these strategies has set me into progressive labor, I have been slowly observing more and more early labor signs.
Today my doctor told me that I can contact her on Friday if I still haven’t had the baby and schedule an induction. She doesn’t believe that I will need it but who knows. Either way, whatever happens, this kid will come into the world as safely and soundly as I can manage it. If that means waiting another week, I can deal with that.