Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, November 7, 2014

How To Induce Labor - Thoughts from a Mom of 4 (soon to be 5)

A friend gave me this shirt due to everything I have suffered
Looking for advice on how to induce labor?  That's something I've Googled many times during my previous four pregnancies.  I am now awaiting the birth of #5, but this time much wiser and rational.  I'm due in eight long days.  This has been the longest pregnancy I have endured due to our big move and then getting rear ended at 35 weeks.  Just when I thought my contractions couldn't hurt any worse, they did.  I have what is called "irritable uterus", but it doesn't lead to anything but pain, exhaustion, and irritability.  I feel sorry for everyone who has to be around me on a regular basis.  I can hardly stand myself!

The advice I'm going to give you is this:  Don't torture yourself.  There are things that will bring on contractions, but not productive ones if your body isn't ready to labor.  A woman's cervix won't even dilate if she's put on Pitocin and she's not ready.  You need sleep.  Years ago I asked my doctor about taking castor oil and she told me quite bluntly, "Trust me.  You do not want to start labor with explosive diarrhea."  She's right.  I don't.  My midwife this time around told me it also causes some women to vomit.  I'm sure I would be included in that group.  A friend of mine tried it a few days ago.  Nothing happened except illness.  She tried nipple stimulation with a breast pump, which definitely brought on contractions, but no baby.  Yesterday she had another C-section because her baby wouldn't move down after her water broke.  She was 10 pounds 1 ounce. 

If you're going to try things to induce labor, make it things you like.  Some people swear by spicy food.  Do you like spicy food?  Great!  Will you be up all night with heartburn if you eat it?

You need sleep!

You're about to be more sleep deprived than you have ever been unless you are one of those magical women whose babies sleep through the night the moment they bring them home.  I don't know how that's possible, but I occasionally meet these unusual people.  I love to hear all about it when I still have a 9-month-old who won't sleep more than two hours at a time.  If you're one of these women, you should probably lie and tell the other moms how exhausted you are.  Try to look a little more unattractive and less smiley. 

If you are in the mood, then sure, give sex a try.  You might be in a lot of pain at this point though.  I remember an episode of Mad About You where Jamie says, "I would be more in the mood to do this if I were falling out of a plane." 

Instead of knocking yourself out trying to make labor start, try to squeeze in activities instead that you won't be able to do with a newborn around or that will be less enjoyable with a newborn.  Have some girls' nights.  Go on dates with your husband.  Play board games with your kids.  I'm thinking I would like one more karaoke night and I continue to go to my choir rehearsals on Thursdays.

It is my personal belief that there has to be the right combination of factors for labor to start.  Most importantly, your body has to be ready.  Second, the baby needs to be in a good position.

I think there is some value in going for regular walks or sitting on a birthing ball because if your body is ready, that might help the baby to get in the right position.  This doesn't mean walk until you can't walk anymore.

A lot of women go into labor after they do some nesting.  I'm guessing it's because of the various movements that come with cleaning, getting down on all fours to scrub the floor, etc.  That happened once with me.  I had sudden urges to clean everything and even vacuum the car, adding a special touch like putting dryer sheets under the seats so it would smell good in there.  I contracted all evening while I did that, things calmed down, and then I was in sudden, intense labor at 5am.  I think my body needed a little sleep before it was finally time.

It is very difficult and anxiety causing experience waiting for a baby to arrive.  We want to be in control and think that we can make it happen.  The truth is, we can't.  It will happen when it's going to happen.  Until then, I laugh at suggestions that hard candy, foot rubs, etc. will "throw" me into labor.  Not even my many contractions have caused actual labor.  I once had someone tell me that Olive Garden's eggplant parmesan caused labor to start.  I gave it a try, but I was so full on their delicious salad and breadsticks, I could only eat one bite.

I now schedule this post for days from now, wondering if my baby will be here by then, feeling like a ticking time bomb without a countdown display.  Good luck, pregnant women everywhere!

What are some things you tried to induce labor?  What's the funniest advice you have heard?

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